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Innovator, Entrepreneur?

Must one be an innovator to be an entrepreneur? I have always thought so, and Drucker, who asserted that the entrepreneur is an innovator, bolsters my belief. This being said, I recently read “Worthless, Impossible and Stupid” by Daniel Isenberg, in which he makes a case for the two being entirely separate qualities and functions.

I’ve always taught entrepreneurship with extensive emphasis on innovation, spending at least 25% of class time on idea generation and formation. I plan to continue to do so, perhaps because I continue to believe that the arts desperately need innovators, but I feel I must also come to peace eventually with the opposing opinion (s).

There seem to actually be 3 positions on this topic of innovation v. entrepreneurship. First, of course, is Drucker’s (and others) who believe that the 2 functions are married: perhaps not immutable, but so closely related that they only procreate when together. The second, I believe, is the one that Isenberg asserts, that there are innovators, and there are entrepreneurs, and that the latter are those who identify the potentialities of the innovations, and then skillfully bring them to market. The third, which I have encountered, and which I believe few identify as entrepreneurs are those who open franchises, who duplicate others’ work. I call this last group small businessmen/women.

I recommend the Isenberg book, although like so many books on entrepreneurship, it relies on the author’s personal anecdotes.

Comments

  1. Jim:
    Just a thought – the two positions seem to reflect the difference between Schumpeter’s theory of “creative destruction,” which relies on innovation, and Kirzner’s theory of “discovery,” which relies on discovering the innovations of others so that the entpreneur can maximize profit. My summary of the two theories is obviously reductive, but I think the analogy is there.
    – Linda

  2. “Innovators are the dreamers: They create the prototypes, work out the kinks and then get bored, anxious to return to what they do best, which is inventing more prototypes. They are rarely concerned, ultimately, with the financial viability of what they do. Entrepreneurs are the builders: They turn prototypes into going concerns — then they get bored. For them, financial viability is the single most important aspect of what they do.” (Boschee & McClurg, 2003, pp. 1-5).

    Boschee J., & McClurg, J. (2003), Toward a better understanding of social entrepreneurship: Some important distinctions.

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  1. […] I’ve always taught entrepreneurship with extensive emphasis on innovation, spending at least 25% of class time on idea generation and formation. I plan to continue to do so, perhaps because I continue to believe that the arts desperately need innovators, but I feel I must also come to peace eventually with the opposing opinion (s). # […]

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