Keyword - Entredonneur
This invented word takes the literal meaning of 'entrepreneur' and reverses it to create an ethical balance
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The Word 'Entrepreneur'
- 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".
- Metadesigners tend to focus more on creativities beyond the traditional genre of invention.
Normalising the Habit of 'Taking'
- In the late 20th century, Mrs Thatcher characterise enterprise as the ability to generate wealth (see Wikipedia entry).
- For many, therefore, entrepreneurship is associated with a forceful, exploitative, or even predatory idea of business acumen.
- Despite the recent idea of social enterprise we still tend to focus on the financial, rather than the creative aspects of risk and innovation.
What 'Entrepreneur' Means - Literally
- The term is made from 2 old French words
preneur- taker and entre - between
which meant (literally) 'taking from between'.
- It implies the combination of several (existing) things.
- This is a very synergistic idea, potentially.
Reclaiming 'Give and Take'
- In reality, it is hard to embark on any enterprise that is EITHER exclusively selfish, OR exclusively altruistic.
- By introducing this word (in 1990) I hoped it would encourage a more realistic model of creative transaction.
Making Enterprise Manifold
- 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)
- We can re-invent invention to make it do more good for more recipients.
- 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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