When you begin your MBA journey you quickly notice the difference between business and academe culture. For example, in commerce the terms sales and marketing are often used synonymously. To a MBA professor sales is but one of the many dimensions of marketing. The word quality, which is somewhat generic in the business world, has been defined many ways in scholarly journals. Before discussing how quality can be improved a MBA professor will first begin with how quality is defined. Many problems in business are traced to the fact that stakeholders define words differently. Seems crazy but it’s true.
When I was earning my MBA I was also serving as VP of Operations for an angel investor funded start-up. The lead investor, a successful and wealthy lawyer, called a marketing meeting one day and was surprised when I showed up. My role involved manufacturing and distributing the company’s products, two of the most important aspects of the marketing mix, yet he was surprised when I arrived assuming I had no reason to be there. In reality, he wanted to have a sales meeting and was using the words marketing and sales synonymously. Here we were, two leaders of a fledgling start-up and we couldn’t agree on the definition of the word marketing.
Another example is the word entrepreneurship, which many people view synonymously with self-employment. If you read Richard Cantillon’s early 18th Century work Essai sur la Nature du Commerce in G?n?ral, you’ll see that Cantillon, who was first to use the word, viewed entrepreneurship as self-employment. However, in the 1930’s influential economist Dr. Joseph Schumpeter expanded the definition of an entrepreneur to include those who were innovative and did things in new ways.
To Dr. Schumpeter self employment was a manifestation, not a condition, of entrepreneurship. Why does this matter? Most business scholars/professors, 93% according to one study, have a Schumpeterian view and believe that just about anyone can be an entrepreneur. This is why the phrase Corporate Entrepreneur is used widely in academic circles and viewed as an oxymoron by some practitioners. Corporate entrepreneurship is a perfectly appropriate term when one sees the issue from a Schumperian perspective, but to a small business owner (who sees entrepreneurship as self-employment) it may seem silly to say one can be both an employee and entrepreneur. In reality, both views could be correct.