Entrepreneurship

#8 Thilde Langevang

Thilde Langevang is Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Development Studies at the Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, CBS, where she is affiliated to the Centre for Business and Development Studies (CBDS). She holds a Ph.D. degree in Geography from University of Copenhagen. Her research focuses on various expressions of entrepreneurship in Africa and examines the influence of the developing country context for entrepreneurship motivations, opportunities, organizing forms, and resource and skills acquisition.

 

Thilde Langevang

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Associate professor, PhD
Tel: +45 38152978
Department of Intercultural Communication and Management
 
 
What is your understanding of entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is a value creation process, which involves turning ideas into action, seizing opportunities and managing resources creatively. The exact features and expressions of entrepreneurship and the type of value created, however, depend on the context.

In my view, it is important that the concept of entrepreneurship is not delimited to the activities of hero individuals who introduce radical innovations to the market, but also includes the more mundane undertaking of a variety of actors. Most entrepreneurship research has focused on business elites in the global North while there has been a tendency to ignore or disregard the entrepreneurial activities of "ordinary people" in the global South. A number of African countries, for example, are currently recording very high levels of entrepreneurship (measured as business start-up activities) in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. This activity, however, is, if at all considered entrepreneurship, often devalued as "necessity entrepreneurship" indicating that it is considered an inferior form of entrepreneurship pushed by poverty and lack of other choices.

What characterises an entrepreneur as an individual?

It has proven very difficult to determine the key characteristics or personality traits of entrepreneurs. It could be argued that not too much effort should be put into trying to answer this question since much entrepreneurial activity is not being enacted by isolated individuals but by groups of people, organizations and communities. Instead of focusing so much on the individual entrepreneur and his/her traits I support the move towards focusing on the process of entrepreneurship, its features, the various factors that influence it, and the types of value created.

What does this mean for university education, or education more generally?

Entrepreneurship education should attune students to various forms and domains of entrepreneurship. Students should be equipped with the tools and methods needed to initiate new businesses, events, projects, organizations etc. in different societal context.

What is the role and function of entrepreneurship for private companies and
for the public sector?

Entrepreneurship plays an important role for both private and public organizations since entrepreneurship is a key means through which organizations react to change and become agents of change.

In what sense is entrepreneurship important for society?

Currently there is a lot of focus on all the positive effects of entrepreneurship on society. This is, for example, the case in development discourse where the current move "from aid to trade" and the focus on private sector development imply a new emphasis on enterprises and entrepreneurship as the key drivers of economic growth, job creation, and poverty alleviation in developing countries. While entrepreneurship can make a difference for some poverty stricken individuals and deprived communities around the globe, it is important that we do not overestimate the effect and uncritically celebrate private initiative. 

To whom do you pass on the baton?

Camilla Bartholdy

 

Sidst opdateret: Entrepreneurship Platform // 13/02/2015