Entrepreneurial mindset

Entrepreneurial mindset

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).

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. 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.

Literature Review

Disclosing New Worlds

A very profound meta-physical perspective on entrepreneurship has been developed by Spinosa, Flores and Dreyfus. In their book “Disclosing New Worlds” (1997). They analyse through what human forces our world develops and entrepreneurship is conceptualized as creating “disclosive spaces” and new practices leading to “new ways of life” and thereby allowing us to make sense of our lives.

They are focusing on the transformative force, the change-making agency of the entrepreneur. But they are less interested in analyzing the concrete rational practices but in understanding the force, the mindset, that drives the entrepreneur.

There approach becomes more clear when we see how they set it in contrast other approaches to entrepreneurship research for which they chose eminent representatives. First they review Peter Druckers understanding and teachings on entrepreneurship. They assess that he follows a traditional Cartesian model: Practice rests on theory. Hence an entrepreneur has to learn how to find and interpret the symptoms, so he can just like a medical doctor, use his knowledge in order to implement the adequate practice. This is a very down-to-earth approach where entrepreneurship is understood to be a practice just like building a house. There a techniques one has to learn, e.g. to identify opportunities there are several methods Drucker describes, such as “seeing change and reacting to it”. With this method fields of opportunity, such as the growing market for elderly, or the consequences of rapidly increasing number of women in the work force, can be identified. Subsequently entrepreneurs can come up with businesses such as travel agencies for seniour citizens and designer brands for women business cloths. Spinosa, Flores and Dreyfus do not think this comes close to understanding the essence of the transformative creative change caused by entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily find or identify needs, but are intuitively convinced almost obsessed with the believe in a practice that changes the way of life. One example that the bring forward is music styles. How could anybody foresee the success of the Beatles, or any new music style for that matter, when nobody had ever heard that kind of music.

Next they review the approach of Karl Vesper, who does not attempt to develop a theory of entrepreneurship, but favors the approach to deliver a multitude of cases describing and analyzing the experience of entrepreneurs in order to transmit the entrepreneurial spirit and approach to his readers. Here Spinosa, Flores and Dreyfus acknowledge the fact that Vesper identifies a mystery, the special circumstances and luck as components of successful entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs have a sort of a moment of [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_%28feeling%29 epiphany] when they encounter an opportunity worth their venture. In Spinosas assessment Vesper falls short in analyzing this aspect.

The third wide-spread approach to academic work on entrepreneurship is exemplified by George Gilder. His work describes three elemental virtues of an entrepreneur: giving, humility, and commitment. The first can be paraphrased and is illustrated in an "what you reap is what you saw" approach as described in Senges' (2007) forth attractor for an entrepreneurial mindset (see below). Gilder's second virtue - humility - is meant to describe how an entrepreneur is not a high flying megalomaniac who is up in the visionary clouds, but someone who is ready to do the hard work in trenches. Lastly an entrepreneur is 100% committed to his venture's vision and has an intuitive believe in it. It is Gilder's take on entrepreneurship Spinosa et. al favour the most.

The problem with all these approaches is that they are work post-hoc. They look at the practices and effects of successful entrepreneurs and then they deduce commonalities. For Spinosa et al. it is much more important to understand the philosophy, or the mindset behind the entrepreneur. It is the “making of history”, the push for a new way of life entrepreneurs are dedicated to, that they interests them. They go on to describe how it is not knowledge, but a sensitivity for anomalies they find to be the distinct attribute of an entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs have a skill to reflect upon the world and develop an innovative perspective. And it is this innovative perspective that the entrepreneur pursues with dedication, aiming at the re-configuration of the way of life of his target constituency.

In conclusion they find that the composite entrepreneur they conceptualize has the following important skills: “(1) the entrepreneur innovates by holding on to some anomaly; (2) he brings the anomaly to bear on his task, (3) he is not clear about the relation of the anomaly to the rest of what he does, and once he has a sense of a world in which the anomaly is central, such as the world of work, he embodies, produces, and markets his new understanding; (4) to do this, he preserves and tests his new understanding – for instance, by leading workshops or other kinds of discussions – to see how it fits with the wider experience than his own; (5) […] he must take his new conception and embody it in a way that preserves its sensibleness and the strangeness of the change it produces, seeing to it that his new reconfiguring the way things happen in a particular domain; (6) finally, he focuses on all dimensions of entrepreneurial activity into a styled coordination with each other and brings them into tune with his embodied conception, so that the critical distinction involved in appreciating the product become manifest in the company’s way of life.” (Spinosa, et al. 1997, p. 50)

The four poles of an Entrepreneurial Mindset (Overview)

The following four poles that were developed mainly through the phenomenological action research by Senges (2007), are reported to influence the individual as well as collective/institutional entrepreneurial identity, persona or mindset. They are presented in sequential order, however, they are simultaneously active and intermeshed in their influence. Each pole is formulated with a central question alluring to and provoking a Platonian midwife technique. The ‘we’ form is used, because in the original resreach the model is applied to the collective mindset of a university. The circle begins with exploration and realising existence, which is argued to lead to an internal locus of control. Next, the meaning of life question is formulated as “what do we want”, which is argued to be most adequately contested with axiology and teleology. This permits the setting of priorities and subsequently leads to the possibility of engaging in entrepreneuring. With the entrepreneurial ambition clarified, the implementation and practice comes to the forefront, combining with pragmatist philosophy and with cybernetics. These trends are believed to instil the creative bootstrapping practices of ‘trial and error’ based optimisation favoured by entrepreneurs. Lastly, the life-plan is set in relation against the rest of world. Ethics as well as sustainability are questioned, because only just causes that consider their environment are successful in the long term. This last pole introduces the ‘other’ not only as part of a shared world, but also as differentiating factor. Thereby, it gives raise to yet another level of reflection. The differentiation, and thereby definition, of the ‘self’ contrasts and complements other beings, values and practices.


Human ontology is one of the oldest and most extensive fields of philosophy. Until the present day, philosophers and scientists have been exploring and researching how to understand the human consciousness, (e.g. Dennett) and so far there is no unifying insight or model. Senges (2007) develops a simple but uncontroversial chain of thought connecting Cartesian proof of existence to Existentialist free will, and then subsequently to an inner locus of control.

While many philosophers had previously developed theories for human existence Descartes was the first to conduct a scrutiny for implementing radical methodological doubt. Descartes’ achievement was therefore twofold: firstly he deployed a scientific empirical method of philosophy enabling it not only to serve as midwife for meta-physical understanding and construction of the world, but also to deliver the ‘hard facts’ of the conscious human being (if something like that can exist); secondly, he delivered the founding stone of scientific philosophy: cogito ergo sum. Archimedes’ dictum “Give me a fixed point and I will move the world,” receives a new perspective when there actually is a meta-physical fixed point. It allows for the development of one’s reality.

Building upon Descartes’ central insight, the Phenomenologists and other meta-physical sciences like psychology and sociology began to emerge and analyze the world in meta-physical terms, but on an empirical basis. After some time, the more practical meta-physical traits, first and foremost psychology, delivered very useful and applicable results. It was however only in the 20th century that, after the massive and terrible sufferings enabled in great part by modern technology, the psychologist Vicktor Frankl dealt with the most essential question of human existence: The question of the meaning of life. While Frankl developed Logotherapy as a method to facilitate the individual’s search for meaning (Poller, 2006), Existentialism developed as the first popular philosophy outlining a program of individual freedom (Enlightened free will and subsequent responsibility towards the world).

Existentialist philosophy stresses the human beings freedom to act. In fact, following Sartre, humans create and give meaning to their individual lives and the social world only by mindfully choosing their actions. In other words, the individual is what it does, and defines itself only by its actions. Sartre himself has formulated the first principle of Existentialism as: “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself” (Sartre, 2006) and “full responsibility” for his existence rests on him. Within this radical school of thought, all action can be seen as entrepreneurial as one creates ones life by constantly making entrepreneurial choices. Even though it is theoretically (and if internalised also practically as in Sartre's case) possible to perceive and live one's live in this absolute freedom, which he himself felt to be a condemnation, it is more realistic to also take the later structuralist relativistic complementation into account, which counterbalances the Existentialist claim of individual freedom and in fact reverses it, saying that the individual is incapable of originality but only able to express the social conditions in which it resides or grew up.

While acknowledging both theories, they have to be interpreted as two sides of the same condition, meaning that the individual is free to, and in fact responsible for, its actions, cumulating in its individual life enterprise. While it is also true that each human character is massively influenced and formed by the conditions of his/her Lebenswelt (lifeworld). The later concept of conditioning is explored in great detail by Pierre Bourdieu, who termed this unconsciously impregnated state habitus;

Bourdieu elaborations on habitus build the basis for the following argument: humans who (at least to a certain level) possess the capacity to reflect upon and critique historical and emerging thought structures, represent a very valuable social and cultural resource produced in universities. This means that students and faculty are responsible to continuously watch that this exact feature of universities is not lost. It is by working out this aspect that Bourdieu's approach can be helpful; in so much that it serves to evaluate and demand the education for reflexive capacity and social awareness.

From there we examine the connection to what researchers in entrepreneurship have found to be a fundamental disposition of entrepreneuring human beings – an internal locus of control (Koh, 1996; Mueller & Thomas, 2001) – comes natural. Internal locus control describes the psychological attitude that the world is an environment shaped by our actions, rather than one being shaped by the overarching fatal turmoil of the aggregated currents and particular temporal happening on this planet .

One visible expression of an entrepreneurial philosophy and an inner locus of control is the choice to engage in self-fashioning (Fleischmann, 2006).

Axiology & Teleology

Next, once the relative autonomy from surrounding circumstances has been realized, the question: “What is important for us, and in what priority?” emerge naturally. The institution explores its values and decides what causes to pursue. Here, the science of axiology and subsequently teleology, offer insights and suggest ends towards which to strive. Axiology, from the Greek axia (αξια, value, worth), is the study of how phenomena and ends are valued and evaluated. It is often related to ethics as indeed axiology often includes questions of inter-personal conduct. However, the two are differentiated by defining axiology as the study of what values can serve for human teleology. Before the telos value is discussed, one value, the value of autonomy in the decisions, is proposed to play a substantial role in an entrepreneurial mindset by influencing motivation.

Once the insight of the internal locus of control and free will has been reached, it is held as a value in itself. This value causes a strong bias towards intrinsic motivation and what has been described as a hacker’s work ethic in contrast to the still dominant work ethic described in Max Weber’s “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” (Weber, 1930).

In contrast to the Protestant Work Ethic, which is centred around one’s duty to constantly work as part of fulfilling one’s calling by God and to reach salvation, hacker work ethics stress the need for intrinsic motivation and passion as a result of engaging with self-set challenges. For Himanen the most important result of hacker ethics is the “general passionate relationship to work that is developing in our information age” (Himanen, Castells, & Torvals, 2001). It is for this reason that entrepreneurs are not commonly found in hierarchical organisations where authoritarian leaders reign and processes are rigidly defined. Entrepreneurs need the distributed leadership described below. They need spielraum.

Constructing the Telos

“Institutions, in a word, inculcate duties and generate outcomes. In order to generate outcomes, they must rely on cognitive and moral resources, which, in their turn, are to be created by administrative fiat. There is no administrative production of meaning” (Habermas as quoted by Ozga, 1998, p. 152 [bold added] ). Agreeing with the words of Habermas, this section deals with the construction of meaning or telos. Teleology, (from Greek telos: end, purpose), is employed here as the practice of the philosophical discourse on the degree of finality that human creation and “beingness” follows. Since the human condition has been established as dependent upon the free will of the individual, this purpose, as a Platonic causa finalis, has to be elected (conscious or unconsciously). Teleology is not dependent upon intrinsic finality (doing something for the perfection of its own nature) and is even less dependent upon extrinsic finality (realizing a purpose outside and greater then that being). Rather, teleology is used in the sense of V. Frankl’s self-chosen logos (reason) for being. In his seminal work “Man's Search for Meaning” Frankl (1963) writes: "Logotherapy...considers man as a being whose main concern consists in fulfilling a meaning and in actualizing values, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts" . His central argument: "Everything can be taken from a man but ...the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way" (ibid p. 104), expresses very closely the central theme of the attractor described in this section.

Another potent approach for exploring and defining one’s values is derived from George Kelly’s work on personal construct theory (Kelly, 1955). This early constructivist theory is used by Peavy (1992) to propose a vocational counselling approach that represents uses for constructivist psychology in career counselling. Here a career is understood to be “a carrier for meaning” and “as a path that provides direction, structure and meaning to life” (ibid p.218). In this approach, the values that give the (entrepreneurial) career meaning are constructed or chosen based on free will.

Before some concrete examples of values motivating entrepreneurial projects are provided, it seems important to make explicit that it is not the popular and conformist moral of the good that drives entrepreneurial action. An entrepreneur can not accept the established understanding of values nor can he/she value traditional practices simply for historical or cultural reasons. An entrepreneur follows what Nietzsche (1885) described in “Beyond good and evil” as a master moral. Nietzsche writes "The noble type of man experiences itself as determining values; it does not need approval; it judges, 'what is harmful to me is harmful in itself'; it knows itself to be that which first accords honor to things; it is value-creating" (ibid). In this sense, an entrepreneur does not accept a given state or practice but creatively destructs the current paradigm to give birth to innovation.

On a more profane level, the teleological approach has been captured by the eminent American entrepreneur and venture creation consultant Guy Kawasaki (2004a) in his book “The Art of the Start” where he advises entrepreneurs to “make meaning”.

From his extensive empirical experience, Kawasaki extracts three categories within which entrepreneurs drive to create meaning (Kawasaki, 2004a): (1) Increase the quality of life (e.g. through a more usable computer service); (2) to right a wrong (e.g. through the introduction of a garbage recycling system); and (3) by preventing the end of something good (as in the case of e.g. a 'slow food' restaurant being replaced by a modern fast food practice).

So what are the values that qualify as teleological or that make meaning? Naturally, all instrumental values and goods can be neglected as they are only stop-overs on the way to the causes of motivation and finality: the intrinsic values. The distinction first made in Plato’s Republic allows for a relatively rapid but astonishingly correct classification of what can be considered teleological values. Another influential conceptualisation of values was developed by Kant (1948), who developed the dichotomy of hypothetical and categorical values. Employing the same logic present in his categorical imperative, he defines a categorical value as being universally true, that is true under all circumstances in contrast to hypothetical values which are true only in some conditions: i.e. it is good to be rich only if that does not imply that one is spending great amounts of time doing a work that one does not enjoy.

The philosophical discourse on what and how these true values are is very old and is of course ongoing. Naturally, it is not the intention of Senges (2007) to propose or discuss “the” telos or logos for life, instead -- four prominent values that have been observed as various combinations in the entrepreneurial motivation of human beings are presented in their expression as telos. Nevertheless, the three conditions suggested by Habermas in “Theory of Communicative Action” (1981) as necessary conditions for a valid statement might be deployed to examine the validity of a postulated telos. These three conditions are: normative rightness (‘We’), theoretical truth (‘It’) and expressive or subjective truthfulness (‘I’). This translates to the questions: Is the telos acceptable within my normative believes? Is the telos congruent in my life’s context? Do I truly feel like pursuing that telos?

In the following four values: wealth, power, justice and knowledge are presented from their axiological aspects.

While the following presentations intend to articulate the distinction between the teleological drives, it is acknowledged that in reality they almost always simultaneously interact (possibly also with other values such as love or health or aesthetics).

The most dominant teleological value of modernity is monetary wealth, most figuratively exemplified in the successful businessman. Given its central role in common entrepreneurship theory and today’s capitalist society in general, it is presented herein, but it will be analysed on the meta-physical axiological dimension since it does not qualify as a cardinal value. Basic monetary wealth is of course fundamental in that it fulfils the first two primitive needs - physiological maintenance and safety - from Maslow’s pyramid of human needs (Masslow, 1943). However, when it come to the higher human needs – love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization – wealth is only an effect (wirkung); just like happiness (Welsch, 1998) but with a distinct causation. Therefore, do people who claim to be motivated by wealth, mostly substitute money for other values like power or pleasure.

The power telos is dealt with in the following paragraph. The hedonistic motivation of pleasure is rather short-sighted and thinkers such as Frankl have warned not to indulge in affluence and materialism as the paramount logos in one’s life (Frankl, 1963). Thus, even though being rich is probably the most common entrepreneurial motivation, it does not represent a sustainable (cardinal) value to strive for, but only serves to permit the consumption of pleasurable goods and services.

Power as motivation might be best developed as a meta-physical concept in Nietzsche . He writes: “ [Anything which] is a living and not a dying body... will have to be an incarnate will to power, it will strive to grow, spread, seize, become predominant — not from any morality or immorality but because it is living and because life simply is will to power... 'Exploitation'... belongs to the essence of what lives, as a basic organic function; it is a consequence of the will to power, which is after all the will to life” (Nietzsche, 1885, §259). The strive for power finds one of its purest forms in political entrepreneurship (Taewook, 2004; Younkins, 2000): People who identify and realize political opportunities in order to gain power and to promote their political position. However, most political entrepreneurs also tend to have a particular understanding and motivation to bring justice to the society. The latter being the lead-motivation of the social entrepreneur, a phenomenon which lately has received quite some attention (Bornstein, 2004; Leadbeater, 1996; Mair, Robinson, & Hockerts, 2006). Or the altruistically related notion of the ‘green entrepreneur’ (Anderson, 1998; Taylor & Walley, 2003), who creates ventures where the dominant telos is the promotion of sustainability.

After quickly reviewing the teleological motivation of the established entrepreneurial paradigm for business, politics and social work, let us now turn to knowledge as a motivating value for entrepreneurship. In the theoretical background, the historic scientific trajectory of knowledge entrepreneurship has been outlined. Senges develops the meta-physical argument for knowledge entrepreneurship. As an motivation knowledge entrepreneurship has been researched under the concept of curiosity (Kashdan, Rose, & Finchmam, 2004) and more specifically scientific curiosity (forscherdrang) (Vidler & Rawan, 1974). The psychological approached pursued by these researchers however is rather descriptive and analytic than normative as is intended here.

Proposing knowledge as a teleological value replicates the traditional academic argument of knowledge as an end in itself. Much discussion has orbited around this argument because knowledge as an end in itself allegedly caused the academics to retreat into an ivory tower. Lately the view that, so called, Mode 2 knowledge (Gibbons, 1994; Nowotny, Scott, & Gibbons, 2001) - knowledge that is generated within a context of application - is taking over scientific production, has been widely accepted. The ancient Greeks distinguished two forms of knowledge, techne and episteme. The first, techne, can be neglected as categorical value as it can be classified as instrumental knowledge, the knowledge of how to do something, mode 2 knowledge. The second, episteme, however touches the core of what a categorical value might be as it deals with life and the understanding (making sense) of one’s reality as such; thus making it the recursive motivation for reflection upon life and one’s motivations. It is this knowledge, described by Lombardo (2007) as “understanding the big picture” and “deep learning”, that causes wise men to say they know that they don’t know. It is this knowledge that motivates wise men to study endlessly.

As expressed before the elaborations of the different motivations, most entrepreneurs are motivated by a conglomerate of values, but usually one of the values is dominant as is the case for academics – who as knowledge entrepreneurs - do want to focus on their research or teaching and have no intentions of commercializing their work.

The German futurologist Horx summarizes the “axiology & teleology” attractor in a forward looking way: “Our culture will give rise to a kind of entrepreneur, who relates more to his work than money: He wants to model a sound and exciting life-art-work” (As cited in (Faltin, 2007, p. 54)). Put differently, entrepreneurs are motivated by multiple telos.

Two aspects have to be mentioned when thinking about envisioning, and planning for the future dubbed entrepreneuring: (1) Agreeing with the observations of Emil Durkheim, and especially considering Max Weber as a representative of idealist German sociology, who stated that there is a profound anomie and disenchantment of social life and the individuals Weltanschauung (world view). Given these factors, it is argued that the irrational side of humans, is not to be dismissed as biological, instinct based, superfluous, or may such a thing be tamed by the modern rationalistic and positivist belief hierarchy, but instead that it is most relevant for creativity and thus for the act of envisioning objectives and scenarios (Durkheim & Giddens, 1971; Kramer, 2002). In short, it is the irrational act of dreaming for an almost impossibly positive scenario, which is represented by the term entrepreneuring. (2) It is also important to clarify that the practice of entrepreneuring is strongly dependent on the pragmatic attractor described in the following section. If perfection and the ‘true plan’ would be sought after ad infinitum, there would be no implementation but only envisioning and reflection. The following develops the pragmatic attractor in detail.


Pragmatism is probably the most obvious and most researched component of a philosophical entrepreneurship model, because it deals with the question of ‘how to implement?’. An entrepreneur is most distinctly characterized by his ability to practically implement a project rather than for meta-physical considerations. The actitudes of making decisions and experimenting are the two entrepreneurial practices most clearly related to pragmatism. Pragmatists are interested in practical consequences or real effects. They have their focus on the results rather than on the essence of a phenomenon. Refusing any kind of dogma, pragmatists believe that there is no absolute or objective reality, but rather that stress changes as the only constant. Hence, what is right is what functions (Poller, 2006). A pragmatist is not interested in the ideal solution, but always seeks a connection to the concrete problem at hand. Or as Wilhite (2006) differentiated: “Pragmatic decision makers adjust their view and their decisions to the state of the world. Ideological decision makers follow a guiding principle making decisions that do not change with circumstances”. While entrepreneurs do engage in entrepreneuring, envisioning ideal scenarios, they focus on realistic goal attainment rather than the pursuit of the ideal. In this context the notion of the entrepreneurial cybernetic is introduced.

Cybernetics is the science of steering any kind of system through adjusting practices, based on feedback information. Following this initial understanding, it is a classical post-hoc management approach as the cybernetician waits for feedback information to come in and then adjusts the system accordingly. In order to add the attributable entrepreneurial essence, the work of a cybernetician has to move pro-actively and employ human creativity. An entrepreneurial cybernetician first creatively designs a system which pursues a specific telos and then continuously uses creative destruction in order to optimize the system to either adapt to new environment conditions, to improve performance, or to represent an amendment in finality.

One benefit the cybernetic perspective adds to the pragmatist aspect of this entrepreneurial mindset is its practical functionality for the entrepreneurial project as a system with an input, an output, and feedback based on steering or decision-making. Another element expressed by the cybernetician perspective is the entrepreneur’s relation to control. While he can delegate responsibility and does not have to be omni-presently controlling all processes, an entrepreneur like a cybernetician needs to understand and know the status of the system in order to precipitate a decision about how the system is to function from now forward. Spender (2006, p. 10) adds an interesting argument highlighting the creative parts of steering a system: “Enlightenment philosophers assume all of us have imaginations, without which we could not make our way through the world, for it enables us to deal with the shortcomings of our knowledge about the world. Strategy is evidence of our imagination, not our reason, and to chase our tails endlessly looking for a positivist theory of strategy is to busy ourselves so much that we miss its essence. The knowledge view is useful because it helps us see strategizing is about the creation of knowledge, the process of dealing with knowledge absences rather than with knowledge assets”.

Ethics & Sustainability

While values and their priorities have been the content of the axiological attractor described, the influential component carved out in this section deals with normative evaluations meant to allow for decisions regarding human interaction (especially under the consideration of dilemmas). The central question: How to relate one’s practice to the rest of the world? And namely: How to behave with regards to other humans and human institutions and how to behave towards the natural environment? Considerations about sustainability are hereby included following the logic of the necessity of a functioning (resource) environment for future generations. This attractor therefore deals with Habermas’ condition of whether the already discussed attractors on finality and practice are normatively right in an alignment with what one normatively should do. It is important to point out that this learning stage ‘is not something added, rather it represents a fundamental reorganization of the system’ (Macy, 1991, p. 126). What Macy wants to highlight is that being in harmony with the world is a step that is required and that might cause the whole vision to change. This is so because it allows for the individual to identify and evaluate opportunities, because an opportunity only exists when it is attractive to others, and it can constrain or even eliminate an opportunity if the consequences for others has by its nature negative results.

While there are several concepts of departure in making considerations about ethics and sustainability (as alluded to when elaborating on axiologies), Kant’s categorical imperative is the cornerstone of his moral philosophy as well as the basis for deontological ethics which are most commonly used for scrutinizing ethical validity. It famously reads: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law” (Kant, 1948).

The ethics attractor is very difficult to investigate, because it is not directly codified nor made explicit in the interview. In fact, this is, following the cybernetician Heinz von Foerster, a normal state. He proclaimed that ethics need to be implicit (Foerster, 1994, 1999).

Reiteration – Reflexivity, Differentiation

At this point we are entering into the meta-reflexive or hyper-complex cycle; the actor has reflected about himself, his values and goals, his practices, as well as his relation to others. He re-enters the cycle with this understanding and is now interested in developing the positive differences i.e. the unique selling points. Codifying the unique history is one strategic element in creating the myths that make up the cultural identity. In this sense organisations can apply the practices that e.g. universities used in early modernity as codifiers of national history and culture (Delanty, 2001).

This second order abstraction can be based theoretically in the notions of Spencer Brown and Luhman (1992), who have their work originate from the reflective state of drawing a difference. They begin with a first distinction, the system and the environment, and from there on move to cycles of re-entry – differentiations of what has been differentiated – ad infinitum. What is more, Marc Casson, who is one of the responsible parties for reviving the scientific discourse on entrepreneurship in the early ‘1990’s, concludes: “The essence of entrepreneurship is being different” (Casson as cited in (Faltin, 2007, p. 54))


"The entrepreneurial mind-set transcends the confines of family and tradition, opening individuals up to modern styles of consciousness and securing them a place in modern industrial society" (Brigitte Berger in Spinosa, Flores, Dreyfus, 1997, p.57)


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External links

* [http://knowledgeentrepreneur.com/4_cross_case_analysis/4.2._theory_of_knowledge_e-ship_in_universities/4.2.4._mindset_&_values.html Max Senges' original research developing the entrepreneurial mindset model]

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