Uncertainty & the “Entrepreneurial Mindset”

Rickie Moore

American Professor of Entrepreneurship, Rickie Moore, has been the driving force behind the entrepreneurial curricula and activities of the International MBA programme of EMLYON Business School, located in Lyon, France. EMLYON has just been ranked 10th for entrepreneurship in the global FT MBA ranking.

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How do you teach students to become entrepreneurs? Rickie Moore, who does just that, shares some ideas.

An entrepreneurial revolution is sweeping the globe. It is reported that 90% of all jobs today are created by entrepreneurs. If anything, it is entrepreneurs more than the central banks and governments that have kept the global economy alive over recent years.

As under-developed economies transform into global economic powerhouses, individuals such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are riding a wave that has taken their college-born ideas to a global audience of billions.

Today, there are several initiatives underway to awaken the spirit of enterprise in citizens and firms across the world. From the freedom to act and the necessity to invent and innovate, today’s economy is increasingly an entrepreneurial one.

As a major stakeholder and contributor to the economic ecosystem, business schools have a key role to play in the training of entrepreneurs and developing the entrepreneurial capacity of future business leaders.

While it is true that one does not need a college degree to start a business (see Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, David Geffen or Steve Jobs), going to business school to learn how to start a business can make a huge difference.

It offers the opportunity to learn from those that understand the challenges of being an entrepreneur and benefit from the rich diversity of talent, resources, connections and fertility of the business school environment.

Economist Frank Knight’s theory of the entrepreneurial function in modern enterprise helped frame the phenomenon of “uncertainty”.

This constitutes one of the pillars of all entrepreneurial undertakings: outcomes in the future are known in advance and will materialise; outcomes in the future are not known in advance and will materialise; and, finally, known and anticipated outcomes in the future may not materialise.

The notion of uncertainty therefore provides a useful backdrop for the comprehension of the entrepreneurial opportunity. Two schools of thought, competing yet complementary, condition how the phenomenon is perceived:

  • opportunities emerge because the entrepreneur is able to detect and/or discover a gap in an existing market that he or she is able to fill
  • opportunities are created because the entrepreneur is able to initiate a new gap in an existing market based on his or her ability to offer a new higher value-added or enhanced product or service.

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