Ethics, Management, and the Existentialist Entrepreneur

Posted: 24 Nov 2009

See all articles by Daniel Gilbert

Daniel Gilbert

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Date Written: 2002


Because it regularly supplies both Americancapitalism and individual business organizations with new business ventures,entrepreneurship is generally regarded as a servant of capitalism and ofmanagement. In other words, conventional wisdom in America associatesentrepreneurship with the concept of management.The work of S.Venkataraman uncovers the arbitrariness of the traditional association betweenentrepreneurship and management. By autonomously incorporating the word "no" into the definition andconduct of their personal projects--e.g., choosing to leave unjust employmentto start a business--entrepreneurs demonstrate their understanding of endings,creative freedom, and autonomy.Such an understanding distinguishesentrepreneurs from managers, whose logic leaves no room for the autonomousincorporation of "no" into managerial action, such as "no, you maynot do that."Steeped in corporation, stewardship, and corporatestrategy, the manager's job does not include the contemplation of"no." Venkataraman's interpretation of entrepreneurship as an existentialphenomenon (distinct from management) has implications for management educationand entrepreneurship research.For example, it is uncertain whetherstewards of American management education can afford to continue housingentrepreneurship.Also, it is possible that conversations about theexistential entrepreneur belong in the humanities. (SAA)

Keywords: Existentialism, Venkataraman, Sankaran, Economics, Creativity, Ethics, Autonomy, Management education, Entrepreneurship education, Firm management, Capitalism

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Daniel, Ethics, Management, and the Existentialist Entrepreneur (2002). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN:

Daniel Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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