Indian Ethos in Cotemporary Management

Entrepreneurship is the only career where entrepreneurs are directly responsible for multiple stake holders. Entrepreneurs’ authority is derived from product or service knowledge, understanding of the competitors, customers, suppliers; own employees as well as an uncanny ability to foresee the future. It is a complex orchestra of perfect harmony among all.

To Be or Not To Be; For Me or For Others: Entrepreneurial Intention

Brajaballav Kar

Associate Professor, School of Management, KIIT University

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Introduction

Entrepreneurship is the only career where entrepreneurs are directly responsible for multiple stake holders. Entrepreneurs’ authority is derived from product or service knowledge, understanding of the competitors, customers, suppliers; own employees as well as an uncanny ability to foresee the future. It is a complex orchestra of perfect harmony among all. There are multiple and contradictory objectives in any business. The entrepreneur handles it all during the start up phase and becomes the embodiment of different functions, processes and policies.

Many a times the entrepreneur is also classified as an opportunist, capitalist and profit seeking individual with scant regard to the benefits of the stakeholders. The sole motive is attributed to self-aggrandizement. They are regarded as the shylocks of society. They exploit the opportunity by finding loopholes in the law, taking advantage of the vulnerable employees, customers and using the information asymmetry. In an egalitarian perfectly competitive economy and society, entrepreneur is a criminal or at least an anathema. Yet the society craves for them in the name of growth and development.

But many times it is the entrepreneur who is responsible to bring new innovations into use. Actions of the entrepreneurs question the status quo of the society and economy. New innovations, better products and services, cost effective solutions are the greatest contributions for the mankind. Their action reduces the disparity between haves and have-not, different locations etc. They bring new socio-economic order into the world. The society pays the dividend to entrepreneurs in the form of wealth; the significant risk is also associated with its own awards.

The dichotomy of business and ethics is well known. Entrepreneurial Ethics is of utmost importance, since it forms the base, the common and shared value system around which the organization and larger community interacts. Lack of ethics jeopardizes the sustainability of the organization. If the promoter is suspected or found to be unethical, then the organization looses the goodwill and base upon which it stands. In a sense if the entrepreneurship is not about the wellbeing of the larger societal context it becomes unsustainable. The value proposition of new-firm in itself ensures the wellbeing of all. At a very base level, the wellbeing can be construed as the market need. The larger is the number of stakeholder and larger is the solution proposition, the longer is the sustainability of the organization. So the wellbeing as a philosophy has to be inbuilt into the business proposition. Ethics is individualized in nature, relates to broader view of wellbeing of the individuals, society and nature.

Philanthropy can be thought of as a continuum on the concept of wellbeing. Over the years the businesses have accepted corporate social responsibility as major focus and thereby the commercial profit orientation and philanthropy has been co terminating. Entrepreneurs in some research are also indicated to have a spirit of sacrifice. To an extent, protestant ethos also has been indicated to be a cultural element promoting entrepreneurship. Many cultures where resources are scarce have become entrepreneurial cultures rather than where there is abundance of resources. People of such cultures practice frugality, postponement of gratification and compulsive savings. They also are religious about benevolence and gratitude as a principle of life. Thus the cultural elements form the DNA of entrepreneurship.

There have been many criticisms about the cultural and philosophical practices in India and Hindu religion for lack of entrepreneurial culture. Wealth making is taken to be a less important work and looked down upon. Spiritual attainment is the highest ideal for people. The religion also promotes individual excellence as opposed to group attainment. The idea of being born alone and die alone, gives too much importance to individualism. Other message such as “Vasudhyeba Kutumbakam” (world as a family) gets lost amidst the plethora of messages promoting individualism. As a religious philosophy the present life is considered transient and illusory. Shunning desires to attain salvation hits most common people to make them disenchanted from entrepreneurial process. The problem gets compounded by the rigmarole of laws, legal shylocks and parasitic bureaucracy. The direct or vicarious experience is tragic enough for a nascent entrepreneur to attempt a Sisyphus-journey. The travesty is that those who are brave or lucky enough to be successful are derided and despised of some means and ends which are not respectable enough. It becomes difficult for the people to accept or adore entrepreneurial success. Entrepreneurial failure is compounded with social exclusion along with personal losses. The exit from entrepreneurial career is extremely difficult, organizational acceptance is the least, and Indian employment scenario discriminates failed entrepreneur.  Where is the motivation then to be one? Entrepreneurs become social and cultural orphans without legitimacy.

The saying “In the great undertakings there is glory even in failure” is attributed to Lee Iacocca. Umpteen entrepreneurs fail umpteen times. Failure is the price the society has to pay to advance. It has to be embraced and encouraged. Unfortunately, it would be politically and in principle nightmare to encourage failures. Entrepreneurship attempts with genetic or congenital defects must be aborted in order to have healthy new-firms. We must understand probability of failures in case of healthy attempts. In many cases entrepreneurship become show; it is promoted, stage-managed and catapulted to success till it is known to have spoiled root and moral fabric of its associates. Individuals with undue advantage over a factor of production take to entrepreneurship and success is attributed to them like a foregone conclusion. Such cases spread wrong message and learning regarding the basics tenets of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship as a means to hedonistic pleasure early in life becomes an explosive tenet.

Many of the teachings of Swami Vivekananda are apt for entrepreneurs. He indicated that “They alone live, who live for others”. He has been one of the greatest social entrepreneurs of modern India. The organizational continuance and sustenance of Ramkrushna Muth continues to emphasize the relevance. His teachings are focused towards focus, perseverance, happiness and success. He indicates that excellence in work is driven by a sense of spirituality. The entrepreneur’s role is to continue working without expecting the result (Niskama Karma). The result will be a by-product of the effort.

Methodology

In the light of the above discussion the research paper presents the survey results from 213 entrepreneurs of Odisha with regard to motivation of being an entrepreneur. Convenient sampling was used for the collection of data. The paper only presents the part of a larger study and takes up two motives like “To be rich” and “To create social wellbeing”. The larger section of the intention had 20 items and its reliability and validity was checked with Cronbach alpha test of reliability (0.662) and pilot testing of the questionnaire.

Data Analysis and Finding

  1. I wanted to become rich by doing business

Entrepreneurship is to exploit economic opportunities and build wealth. In the selected sample as much as 36 percent of the respondents disagree that they wanted to become rich by doing business, on the other hand 47.9 percent agreed. Importantly 15.5 percent of the respondents remained ambivalent about it.

 

S. D

D

N. A. N. D

A

S. A.

Total

Mode

Mean

Frequency

17

61

33

76

26

213

4

3.2

Percentage

8.0%

28.6%

15.5%

35.7%

12.2%

100.0%

   

S.D: Strongly Disagree, D: Disagree, N. A. N. D: Neither Agree or Nor Disagree, A: Agree, S. A: Strongly Agree

If the neutral response (Neither Agree nor Disagree) is not considered, then of the total response 57% agree that they somewhat wanted to become rich by doing business.

  1. I wanted to contribute to the social wellbeing

Of the different motives, contribution to social wellbeing is recognized in the literature. Social entrepreneurship is one of such examples.

 

S. D

D

N. A. N. D

A

S. A.

Total

Mode

Mean

Frequency

7

40

29

110

27

213

4

3.5

Percentage

3.3%

18.8%

13.6%

51.6%

12.7%

100.0%

   

S.D: Strongly Disagree, D: Disagree, N. A. N. D: Neither Agree or Nor Disagree, A: Agree, S. A: Strongly Agree

64.3 percent agree with the proposition whereas only 22.1 percent disagree. If the neutral response (Neither Agree nor Disagree) is not considered, then of the total response 75% agree that there was a motive for business, to contribute to the social wellbeing.

Chi-Square Test of Relationship was conducted to understand if there exists some relationship between the two variables of business intention. The Chi-Square test of relationship indicates (Pearson Chi-Square= 34.418, Df=16, Significance=0.005) that there is a relationship between variables “to be rich” and “social wellbeing” as motive to do business and the relationship is significant.

The correlationship between the two variables was tested and it was found that (Pearson's R= -.239, significance = .000) there is negative coefficient of correlation between the two variables which is significant.

Discussion and Conclusion

The data analysis indicates that “Social wellbeing” is more predominant motive as compared to “To be rich” as motives of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are more willing to take the risk for wellbeing of others. It also indicates that social entrepreneurship would be a preferable mode as compared to business ventures. At the same time social wellbeing has to happen along with the sustenance of the business in the long term.

 


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