Entrepreneurship: Spreading the Spirit of Enterprise
by Peter S Heslam
Faith in Business is co-organizing a conference on Entrepreneurship in March with Transforming Business, directed by Peter Heslam at Cambridge University. Here he provokes new thinking on entrepreneurship and invokes the spirit of enterprise.
When the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations published its list of the top 101 sayings of 2002, it included a remark that George W. Bush is said to have made to Tony Blair: ‘The problem with the French is that they have no word for “entrepreneur”’. Whether this remark was a joke by the former US President, or whether it was fabricated to poke fun at him, remains unresolved. But it highlights the origin of the term in the French entreprendre – ‘to undertake’ – which when it first appeared in English as ‘entrepreneur’ was connoted with rather unsavoury commercial dealings. The term only escaped this stigma during the ThatcherReagan era, when ‘entrepreneur’ came to designate the risk-takers and business-builders spearheading the market economy. By the end of the 1980s, ‘entrepreneur’ was more than ten times as common in newspaper articles as it had been in the 1950s and business schools began offering courses in ‘entrepreneurship’…