The virtuous entrepreneur: new ventures and human flourishing
Entrepreneurship research in recent years has expanded to include the ethical dimension of new venture creation and various normative frameworks have been applied to the entrepreneurship role. Despite this, entrepreneurship is still widely viewed as a business phenomenon which bases its claim to be a key contributor to social good on economic grounds only. In this paper, the social good against which entrepreneurship success is measured is defined in terms of a broader notion of human flourishing derived from virtue ethics theory. Virtue ethics as a moral theory emphasises positive traits of character shown by habitual action which fit those who have them to lead good lives in terms of a particular notion of professional excellence. In this paper, the writers argue, with reference to virtue ethics, that new measures of success are needed for entrepreneurship, which take into account the key professional concerns, beliefs and features of entrepreneurship. The roles and responsibilities of entrepreneurs enable them to contribute to society in ways that go beyond economic achievements, thus achieving the broad goal of entrepreneurship, human empowerment through opportune innovation, risk-taking and creativity. Having described these specific roles and responsibilities and how they inform the development of a regulative ideal which influences moral purpose and action, the paper goes on to explore the question: what traits of character constitute the entrepreneur who will be well equipped to achieve success as defined? A range of traits which might contribute to entrepreneurial success such as creativity, courage and toughness are suggested and described. The entrepreneur who has these attributes will be an excellent practitioner: one who embodies qualities of character which contribute to the achievement of the proper goals of entrepreneurship.