The Entrepreneurial Mindset

17 09 2009

An entrepreneurial mindset is described by a conglomerate of meta-physical dispositions, also known as entrepreneurial spirit, meant to cause the innovative and energetic practice to identify or create an opportunity and take action aimed at realizing it. The philosophical themes – existentialism, axiology, pragmatism, ethics – are thereby understood to be strange attractors influencing the construction of the entity’s persona as well as the concrete practices of the entity (Figure 1).

Figure 1:Conceptual Model of Philosophical Components of an Entrepreneurial Mindset (Senges 2007)


Composite Mindset Philosophy

Important for entrepreneurship is the “creative mindset” (Faltin, 2007) that helps entrepreneurs to create new ideas and bring these to the market in a way appropriate to create value for an external audience. Psychological research highlights that true creativity comes not from the kind of area in which one is active but whether one can conceive of something that is both “new and appropriate” (Amabile, 1996). In this way, a entrepreneurial mindset is a philosophy by which individuals engage in creative acts regardless of the type of work they are engaged in. Thus, the entrepreneurial mindset might exist in cooking just as well as web-2 innovating, it is the philosophy and the action it generate that counts – not the context.

This can be contrasted to a “managerial mindset” which deals with creating order and efficiency through controlling, evaluating, and administrating practices (Sarasvathy, Simon and Lave, 1998). An entrepreneurial mindset is distinct from ‘entrepreneurial cognitions’ in that the former signify a philosophy of personal identity and values whereas the latter signify a group of heuristics or decision-making tools that entrepreneurs use to evaluate and exploit business opportunities. An entrepreneurial mindset is also distinct from Entrepreneurial orientation (EO) which is a collective identity in young entrepreneurial firms that fosters innovativeness, pro-activeness and risk-taking among participants in the firm (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996).

The philosophic codification of the mindset of an entrepreneur follows what Durkheim felt to be the achievement of modernity: “The possibility to dynamically differentiate and elaborate values” (Welsch, 1998). Thereby, as is customary in life-philosophy, the creative and initiative aspects meant to create meaning are given central stage in a holistic (or totalitarian) approach. Peter Sloterdijk elaborates on the role of philosophy : “Philosophy is stylizing the human being with the practice of terminological gene-technology (‘begrifflicher gentechnologie’), thereby developing new taxonomies of human existence” (Sloterdijk, 1999). He further explains that philosophy creates meta-physical concepts of human beings and their condition, which serve as archetypical development paradigms when perceived and internalized. One example given by Sloterdijk, is Freud’s creation, or the meta-physical engineering of the Oedipus complex. The proposed philosophical model of an entrepreneurial mindset is meant to contribute such a typology.

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