Entrepreneurship Reading: Becoming an Entrepreneurial Leader
Lynda M. Applegate, Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, developed this Core Reading with the assistance of writer Carole Carlson.
Copyright © 2014 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.
This document is authorized for use only by Weiyin Zhou in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation taught by Erik Froelich, Valparaiso University from January 2017 to July 2017.
At one extreme is what we might call the promoter …, who feels confident of his or her ability to seize opportunity … expects surprises and expects not only to adjust to change but also to capitalize on it and make things happen. At the other extreme is the trustee …, who feels threatened by change and the unknown and whose inclination is to rely on the status quo. To the trustee …, predictability fosters effective management of existing resources while unpredictability endangers them. Most people, of course, fall somewhere between the extremes.
—Howard H. Stevenson and David E. Gumpert, “The Heart of Entrepreneurship,” 1984
In 1983, Harvard Business School professor Howard Stevenson, a pioneer in the field of entrepreneurship research, defined the work of theentrepreneur as the relentless pursuit of opportunity without regard to theresources currently controlled.1 Whereas traditional managers of largeestablished firms often play trustee roles, safeguarding current resources, the entrepreneur, Stevenson explained, is more of a promoter, who focuses on identifying and pursuing opportunities.
Many of us hear the word entrepreneur and think of the brave individual who forgoes a career in an established organization to pursue a new and potentially risky venture. But as Stevenson suggests, entrepreneurship can also be thought of more broadly as a distinctive style of business leadership. Indeed, Stevenson’s definition of entrepreneurial leadership, with its focus on creating and seizing opportunity, can be a foundation for understanding how to build, organize, and lead successful, innovative businesses of any age or size.2