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The moral space in entrepreneurship: an exploration of ethical imperatives and the moral legitimacy of being enterprising.

Anderson, Alistair R.; Smith, Robert

Authors

Alistair R. Anderson

Robert Smith



Abstract

This paper explores the morality associated with entrepreneurship. It has been argued that there is no moral space in entrepreneurship, but such instrumental views may miss out much of the nature of enterprise and how it is understood. Consequently we propose that a socially-constructed perspective, based upon the meanings of entrepreneurship, may help to understand the morality of entrepreneurship. By applying such a lens, we find that the narratives and discourses of the meanings of entrepreneurship are ideological and clearly present a moral space. This space lies between the individual and society and is normatively articulated in entrepreneurial discourses. We develop a tentative framework which links values and outcomes that shows how 'authenticated' entrepreneurship, that is to say that which resonates with a socially approved moral dimension, is legitimized by comparisons with the socially constructed view. The empirical part of the paper comprises of two case stories. The first is a local garage owner who has a reputation as a decent man; the second is a notorious, but entrepreneurial London gangster. Our analysis shows that to be judged 'entrepreneurial', it is not enough to act entrepreneurially; the social constructs of public perceptions entail examining both moral means and moral ends. We conclude that there is a moral imperative in entrepreneurship.

Citation

ANDERSON, A.R. and SMITH, R. 2007. The moral space in entrepreneurship: an exploration of ethical imperatives and the moral legitimacy of being enterprising. Entrepreneurship and regional development [online], 19(6), pages 479-497. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1080/08985620701672377

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2007
Online Publication Date Nov 30, 2007
Publication Date Dec 30, 2007
Deposit Date Jul 29, 2009
Publicly Available Date Jul 29, 2009
Journal Entrepreneurship and regional development
Print ISSN 0898-5626
Electronic ISSN 1464-5114
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 6
Pages 479-497
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/08985620701672377
Keywords Ethics; Morals; Entrepreneurship; Social; Construction; Criminal entrepreneurs
Public URL http://hdl.handle.net/10059/384

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