Call for Papers: Bricolage in Art and Entrepreneurship

Bricolage — doing the best you can with the materials on hand, rather than choosing and end and getting the resources you need — is an important concept in the contemporary entrepreneurship literature. Garud and Karnøe’s influential 2003 paper on the Danish wind power industry helped bring bricolage into the mainstream, and it has important parallels with effectuation and other approaches to entrepreneurship that emphasize experimentation and incremental learning.

The McQuinn Center is co-sponsoring an interdisciplinary conference, 12-14 November 2012, on bricolage in art and entrepreneurship. Hosted by the University of Missouri’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the conference focuses on the work of Ediciones Vigía, a unique artists’ collective that produces limited edition handmade books by Cuban and international authors and musicians. Participants will come not only from the humanities, education, and journalism, but also economics, management, and entrepreneurship. Among the featured speakers are Ivo Zander, who recently co-edited a book on Art Entrepeneurship, and Sharon Alvarez, current chair of the Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Division.

The full call for papers, along with related information, is below the fold.

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Dickens’s Phenomenal Energy

A follow-up to my O&M post on Dickens: Dickens had one characteristic shared by great entrepreneurs: phenomenal energy. A recent NY Times piece focused on this aspect of Dickens’s amazing creativity:

[Dickens] was a whirlwind, living a life that is nearly unmatched in its vigor. He had one entire career as a magazine editor, another as an actor and manager of theatrical productions, still another as a philanthropist and social reformer. The record of his private engagements alone — dinners, outings, peregrinations with his entourage of family and friends — is exhausting to read. The novels stand out against the backdrop of hundreds of other compositions, all of them written against tight deadlines.

Dickens’s energy, which he made no effort to husband until he was nearly dead, was inexplicable. Call it metabolic if you like. Perhaps it was a reaction to the uncertainties of his childhood and the shame of his days as a child laborer, when he knew that as a precocious young entertainer he was already a spectacle well worth observing. . . .

Even Dickens didn’t understand his energy. He grasped that there was a wildness in him, and so did nearly everyone who knew him. When Dostoevsky met Dickens in 1862 — a meeting that is hard to imagine — Dickens explained that there were two people inside him, “one who feels as he ought to feel and one who feels the opposite.”

Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

That’s the subject of last week’s Wall Street Journal debate, with Harvard’s Noam Wasserman arguing the affirmative, venture capitalist Victor Hwang the negative. I offered my own, economics-centered answer in a 2006 article coauthored with Bruce Bullock, the Founding Director of the McQuinn Center who passed away that same year. Bruce and I argued that economists are good at teaching what entrepreneurship does, but not so good at teaching what entrepreneurship is, or how entrepreneurs do what they do.

Sarasvathy on Effectuation in HBR

A concise summary of the “effectuation” approach to entrepreneurship by its creator and champion, Saras Sarasvathy (our 2009 Hibbs Distinguished Lecturer), in the Harvard Business Review. Building on her mentor Herbert Simon, Saras characterizes effectual thinking as a mode of cognition involving experimentation, feedback, and incremental learning — in contrast to the Kirznerian notion that entrepreneurial opportunities are discovered, evaluated, and exploited in single flash of insight, or the mainstream entrepreneurship literature’s idea that entrepreneurs perceive an opportunity, then immediately assemble the resources necessary to exploit it. Saras compares the effectual method to the scientific method:

The idea that anybody can be taught to figure things out, that there is a logic to discovery and invention, would have struck our ancestors as radical and strange. Until quite recently — until science education became institutionalized and widespread — the creation of new knowledge depended on either genius or luck.

I believe we are in a similar situation now with regard to entrepreneurship. . . . The idea that anyone can be taught to be an entrepreneur, to effect things for themselves, might seem ridiculous. But consider this. Every large corporation that exists today began as a small, entrepreneurial company started by ordinary people. In retrospect, their achievements seem incredible, almost magical, by no means ordinary or learnable by ordinary people. We do not think of entrepreneurial action as a skill, one as teachable in schools as scientific reasoning. I believe it is time to change this picture.

Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment — Now Available!

Last week I received the first desk copies of my new book, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012), coauthored with Nicolai J. Foss. You can order today on Amazon’s UK site (or pre-order on the US site, which shows a publication date of 30 April). Or order directly from Cambridge using this link and receive a 20% discount!

A brief description and some endorsements are below the fold. And here is a video from the Author Forum at last week’s Austrian Scholars Conference at which Nicolai and I talk about the book.

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