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The Ruffin Series of the Society for Business Ethics

Volume 3, 2002

Ethics and Entrepreneurship

Saras D. Sarasvathy
Pages 95-112

Entrepreneurship As Economics With Imagination

To date, economics has failed to develop a useful theory of entrepreneurship because of its inability to break out of the static equilibrium framework and the modeling of success/failure as a 0-1 variable. Entrepreneurship research also has not achieved this task due to its preoccupation with the quest for “the successful entrepreneur” and/or the successful firm. This essay calls for a new vocabulary for entrepreneurship, consisting of (1) a plural notion of the entrepreneurial process as a stream of successes and failures, wherein failure management becomes the key science of entrepreneurship; (2) an effectual notion of bringing together particular entrepreneurs and particular environments through creative action; and (3) a contingent notion of aspirations that places imagination at the center stage of economics. Together, the new vocabulary allows us to ask new questions and develop new approaches that allow entrepreneurship to tackle the central task of imagination in economics, i.e., to create from the society we have to live in, the society we want to live in.

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