The stimulus for my research came when reading a discussion of how entrepreneurs discover opportunities for economic profit by economist Israel Kirzner. This was part of the required reading for a seminar I attended in 1989 put on by the classically liberal Institute for Humane Studies. Economic profit implies making an above average rate of return in your business. Since everyone wants to do so, finding the new business or technology that allows this is not easy. But Kirzner said that discovering these opportunities came from something like “leading a life of purposeful action.” That is not the kind of thing I heard in my Ph. D. training in economics, but it did remind me of what the mythologist Joseph Campbell, and author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces, advised people to do: follow your bliss or do what really excites you, what makes you feel like you are achieving some kind of personal destiny. What could be more purposeful than that?
A shorter, non-academic version of the paper, titled “The Calling” of the Entrepreneur was published in The New Leaders: The Business Bulletin for Transformative Leadership, (November/December 1992.) Below is an abstract of the academic paper:
"The psychology of entrepreneurship can be better understood by comparing it to the hero's adventure (as well as the trickster's) In mythology because myths are often seen as symbolic representations of the psyche. The hero and the entrepreneur are found to be similar in their respective adventures, a three part sequence of separation from the community, initiation into new creative powers and a return to the community with a boon for his fellow citizens. Both are creative, curious, energetic risk takers who are guided by mentors. Entrepreneurship can be seen as a manifestation of a universal human psychological condition, the desire for individual creativity."
Entrepreneurship is only getting more important these days. The president's economic advisors even think so. To read about this, go to A Vision for Innovation, Growth, and Quality Jobs by Lawrence H. Summers, head of the National Economic Counsel (he was the head at the time of writing that last year). Also, here is an exerpt from a Wall Street Journal article, The End of Management: Corporate bureaucracy is becoming obsolete. Why managers should act like venture capitalists.
"The new model will have to instill in workers the kind of drive and creativity and innovative spirit more commonly found among entrepreneurs. It will have to push power and decision-making down the organization as much as possible, rather than leave it concentrated at the top."