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


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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