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This chapter is from the book

1.6 Challenging Assumptions—Entrepreneurship Is for All

That is, the results from the study by Birch challenged the long-held assumption that large organizations were the engines and drivers of a national economy in terms of job creation, innovation, and growth. A follow-up study to Birch’s was presented by Bruce Kirchhoff and Bruce Philips in the same year, but with different data. That study confirmed the findings by Birch. Both studies included recessions. Kirchhoff and Philips discovered that during recessions the job creation effect was extremely high, in fact 100% during 1980–1982. While we know that it is during recessions that large organizations lay off people, this evidence seems to have come as news to the general public and to politicians in particular.

These results caught the attention of politicians and legislators and as pointed out by Brännback et al. (2014) that each president since Ronald Reagan has endorsed growth and entrepreneurship in major addresses. The European Union (EU) signed the Lisbon treaty in 2001, which specifically states that the EU will provide substantial support to entrepreneurship as a way to create economic growth within EU. The word entrepreneur has been so widely used in recent years in the United States and in Europe that you often wonder who is not included. We discuss who is an entrepreneur later in this chapter.

One of the myths that we want to challenge at the very front of this book is that entrepreneurship is only for a few, or that it is a male career, or that most entrepreneurs are wealthy to before they start a firm. Another myth is that successful entrepreneurship only happens among those with a technology background. While there is some evidence to support that men outnumber women as entrepreneurs, that statistic is rapidly changing in the United States and worldwide.

Likewise, the number of entrepreneurs among the poor and disabled has been increasing in recent years. One reason is reflected in the work of Noble Peace Prize winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist from Chittagong University. Professor Yunus created the Nobel Peace Prize winning Grameen Bank (www.GrameenFoundation.org) with the focus on women. He recognized that women were the ones usually in charge of the family’s money and were far more likely to repay loans than were men who typically would waste money on drink and other women. What Yunus was building on was the fact that women are less likely to waste money on highly risky ventures and as evidenced by Grameen’s success. However, they were more likely to create sustainable businesses and support their families. Another group that has exploited the same concept is Women’s World Banking (www.womensworldbanking.org). Interesting immigrants in the United States have a higher incidence of new venture creation than nonimmigrants.

Technology entrepreneurship has been all the rage for decades and increasingly more and more women are becoming involved in starting technology firms. There are programs to foster technology firms and these exist worldwide. These programs have fostered firms like Google that came from work done at Stanford and fostered by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (www.stvp.stanford.edu). In the United States there are programs for returning military veterans at Syracuse University and UCLA, for social and “green” entrepreneurs at Colorado State University, and for the disabled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, to name just a few. The point we want to make here is that entrepreneurship is for everyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, location, personal wealth, or physical health. In this chapter we hope we will challenge you to think of people from all walks of life who have chosen an entrepreneurial path for their lives and have made a difference. Perhaps what these programs show is that there are a variety of environments in which entrepreneurship can exist and in which entrepreneurs can thrive.

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