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Keyword - Entredonneur

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The entreprenneur

  • Richard Cantillon created the term 'entrepreneur' around 1730.
  • He saw entrepreneurship as a risk-taking activity.
  • The economist Jean-Baptiste Say later characterised it more in terms of planning.
  • For Say, it was "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour" (see Wikipedia entry).
  • Literally speaking, the word is combinatorial because it refers to someone who 'takes from between'.
  • Despite the more recent idea of social enterprise, the idea of 'entrepreneurship' still tends to focus on the financial, rather than the creative aspects of risk and innovation.
  • For many, it is associated with a forceful, exploitative, or even predatory idea of business acumen.
  • The singular model implied by the term (from the French) 'taking from between' is not so useful, as it appears to be predicated on creating ONE innovation.

(see manifold abundance


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The Entredonneur

  • My term 'entredonneur' (Wood, 1990) was not intended as a clear criticism of 'enterprise' itself.
  • Nevertheless, offers an invaluable practical counterpoint to it, as it replaces 'taking' with 'giving'.
  • The most extreme idea of 'taking' is as unlikely as an extreme idea of pure 'giving'
  • However, by placing the two at opposite ends of a continuum we are better able to map the transition from one to the other
  • It may help us to identify how business, and other modes of enterprise, might be re-envisioned
  • It implies a less wasteful mode of living within an (inevitable) solar economy
  • In theory, at the macro level, tendencies to 'pure greed' may balance the will to 'pure altruism'
  • With better mapping techniques we might be able to replace this struggle with a reciprocal form of altruism.

Wood, J., (1990), "COMMENT: The Socially Responsible Designer", Design Magazine, July 1990


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