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“Who is an entrepreneur?” is (still) the wrong question

Stratos Ramoglou, William B. Gartner and Eric W.K. Tsang

Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 2020, vol. 13, issue C

Abstract: The idea that there exist undiscovered entrepreneurial endowments fell into disfavor after Gartner's (1988) “‘Who is an entrepreneur?’ is the wrong question”. However, a resurgence of the “question of the entrepreneur” suggests that advances in genetics research may be the key to discovering what makes entrepreneurs distinctive. This paper draws from Wittgensteinian philosophy to offer a novel critique regarding the search for differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs. We explain that the idea that entrepreneurs are different gains credence through misleading forms of language that 1) encourage the illusion of some causal interplay between opportunities and potential entrepreneurs, and 2) overshadow the contingent nature of entrepreneurial action. We sidestep misleading forms of thought to suggest that ontological reflection on the nature of entrepreneurial agency shows why we will never discover some “entrepreneurial gene”. Equally important, this Wittgensteinian critique demonstrates the limits of empirical research for problems that fundamentally require conceptual attention – not more determined effort or advanced research methods.

Keywords: Personality research; Linguistic philosophy; Conceptual analysis; Ontology; Entrepreneurial gene; Entrepreneurial agency; Entrepreneurial opportunities; Discovery approach; Actualisation approach; Non-entrepreneurs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jbvi.2020.e00168

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