Strategy and Entrepreneurship: Outlines of an untold story.

In his book “Invention,” Professor Norbert Wiener (1993), commenting on the relative importance accorded to individuals and institutions in historical narratives of science and inventions, asks us to imagine Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” without either Romeo or the balcony. The story is just not the same. He likens much of the study of the economic history of science and accounts of inventions as “all balcony and no Romeo.” The balcony for Norbert Weiner captures the context in which the story unfolds – the culture, the institutions, the constraints and the catalysts that move the plot forward and thicken it. Romeos, for Weiner, play the leading parts in the story, because there is a strong fortuitous element to inventions and there is no inevitability that a possible discovery will be made at a given time and space. Take away either one, Romeo or the balcony, and the whole story falls apart. In a similar vein, we would liken studies of strategy to “all balcony and no Romeo.” But if we accuse strategy of being “all balcony and no Romeo,” strategy scholars could legitimately accuse entrepreneurship of being “all Romeo and no balcony.” In this paper we wish to suggest a point of view from entrepreneurship that will allow strategy scholars to accommodate more Romeos in their stories. Although these two fields have much to offer each other (trade in balconies and Romeos), they have developed largely independent of each other. We wish to suggest that entrepreneurship has a role to play in strategy theory and that strategy theory enriches our understanding of the entrepreneurial process, although this latter aspect will not be the focus of this paper.

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Saras Sarasvathy
S. Venkataraman
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