Entrepreneurship: A Working Definition

January 10th, 2013 / No Comments »

By Thomas R. Eisenmann

What is entrepreneurship? You probably think that the answer is obvious, and that only an academic would bother to ask this question. As a professor, I suppose I am guilty of mincing words. But like the terms “strategy” and “business model,” the word “entrepreneurship” is elastic. For some, it refers to venture capital-backed startups and their kin; for others, to any small business. For some, “corporate entrepreneurship” is a rallying cry; for others, an oxymoron.

The history of the word “entrepreneurship” is fascinating and scholars have indeed parsed its meaning. I’ll spare you the results, and focus instead on the definition we use at Harvard Business School. It was formulated by Professor Howard Stevenson, the godfather of entrepreneurship studies at HBS. According to Stevenson, entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled……