Change and the “Entrepreneurial Society”
by Walter McFarland

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Although thirty years after the writing of Innovation and Entrepreneurship the entrepreneurial society does not formally exist—the prospect of one still fires the imagination.  As many on this Board have elegantly noted—ideas from the book continue to influence thinking and action.  One such idea—and one of special interest here—concerns the role of change in the entrepreneurial society. I imagine the entrepreneurial society as a vibrant place in which entrepreneurial leaders in government entities, commercial organizations, and not-for-profit institutions work together to “…make innovation and entrepreneurship a normal, ongoing and everyday activity….”[1] . Because of this, the entrepreneurial society is also a place of continuous change—and therein lays the rub.  Continuous change is something that organizations […]

The 3 Preconditions for an Entrepreneurial Society
by Julian Birkinshaw

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In 1985 Peter Drucker argued for a shift toward an entrepreneurial society, one where “executives in all institutions…make innovation and entrepreneurship a normal, ongoing everyday activity.” This intentionally broad view requires a fundamental change in mindset. Drucker was pushing us to think and act less like employees taking orders and more like free agents, alert and responsive to opportunities whether we work in a startup or in a large corporation. Thirty years on, how far have we progressed toward Drucker’s entrepreneurial society? Many large companies are experimenting with ways to tap into their employees’ creative ideas. There has been a boom in startups, the number of freelancers is growing rapidly, and technology-enabled platforms such as Upwork […]

Experimental Capitalism
by Haydn Shaughnessy

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It seems like an amazing time for entrepreneurism. Yet, if measured by the net addition of new companies to the US economy, home of the startup, or the number of new startups, entrepreneurship has been in decline for twenty years, according to both the Kauffman Foundation and Brookings Institute.We have convinced ourselves that the startup scene is vibrant and we need to ask why. There are similar illusions around the decline of larger companies. You’ve heard it said often enough that the lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 is also in decline. This too tends to be untrue. Companies don’t disappear when they leave the S&P 500. New companies arrive who have earned their […]

The Entrepreneurial Government
by Zachary First

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Amidst an apparently global pandemic of governmental chaos, gridlock and ineptitude, talk of the public sector’s role in “the entrepreneurial society” can sound ill advised, if not downright nutty. Tell that to Peter Drucker. A generation ago, forecasting the turbulent times in which we now live, Drucker identified building entrepreneurial management into the public sector as our “foremost political task.” Today’s rapid pace of change—social, technological and economic—is, he wrote, both an existential threat to our public institutions and a tremendous opening for entrepreneurial initiative. For entrepreneurs are, in Drucker’s view, defined by their constant search for value in change. They “look out every window. And ask: ‘Could this be an opportunity?’” Consider, for example, […]

Warren Buffett’s ‘Secret Sauce’
by JC Spender

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There is a small industry of commentators who decode the Berkshire Hathaway (BHI) Annual Letter to Shareholders – which includes Bill Gates.  Their findings vary but the letter released this February was especially interesting (in Gates Notes – “the best ever”).  Most focused on BHI’s financials, only to be expected.  But the letter included wide-ranging remarks by the ‘Sage of Omaha’ on the economy, the history of US productivity, and today’s social inequality.  Few remarked his stating that an economy driven by rising productivity leads to job losses for people whose skills get outmoded or when production moves elsewhere.  Or that ‘safety nets’ are needed, fabricated in Congress’s ‘contentious clashes’.  His analysis was ultimately sunny […]

Why the new entrepreneurial citizen must learn from the past to account for an uncertain world
by Paolo Quattrone

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People tend to forget, but words have a history. ‘Society’ – as philosopher, anthropologist and sociologist Bruno Latour reminds us – combines the Latin socius (an ally or companion) with ‘-ties’. It’s about how we as individuals bind ourselves to one another to form communities. But the way we govern and understand ‘socie-ties’ – be they states, public or private institutions – has not escaped our modern obsession with interpreting the world around us through calculation. Whether through financial figures, electoral polls or reality show audience votes, we’ve come to believe we can simplify anything with supposedly objective data. In this drive to manage corporations, states and communities by numbers, we have come to believe […]

A Framework for the Collaboration Economy
by Rick Goings

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The global economy is changing. The old engines of job creation are stuttering. The jobs gap is rapidly widening, threatening stability in societies around the world. Corporate structures, meanwhile, are creaking or failing – disrupted by technology that is leveling the playing field between small businesses and big enterprise. This is not a slow economic evolution, but – as I have argued before – more like a tectonic rupture along the three fault lines of technology, talent, and demographics. The result of this transformation: We are moving into a post-corporation world, with an economy based not on hierarchies, but collaboration. Let me be clear: neither big business nor small enterprises are dead. However, they will […]

Brexit: Crisis and Opportunity – Nothing Lasts Unless Incessantly Renewed
by David Hurst

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Multilayered complex systems are stable when the large and/or slow processes govern through constraint the smaller, faster ones. Sudden change can take place when agents at a lower level escape the restrictions of agents higher in the system, disrupting the whole. This principle applies to all complex systems from golf swings to management organizations and political structures.   The Founding Fathers ensured that this was the case in the structure of the American government when they wisely arranged the different branches of government in a systems hierarchy of constraint. The House of Representatives is elected every two years, Presidents every four years, the Senate every six years (on staggered terms) and the Supreme Court is […]