There is a great ideological disagreement concerning the importance of being entrepreneurial in the context of academic pursuits. The dispute is not so much about the value of entrepreneurialism, but more about how we define entrepreneurialism in the first place. Those who see the entrepreneur as simply someone who 'starts a business' with a view to 'making a profit' (gasp!) are generally hostile to the idea that it should be embedded in the university curriculum. This hostility is expressed through loaded terminology such as 'neoliberal economic aims' (gasp!) said to be infesting higher education with dirty capitalism and undermining its traditionally lofty ideals. [Editor: socialist ideals, of course, because those are the only ideals worth having]. Those who see the entrepreneur as simply someone who is creative and flexible and always looking for innovative ways to solve problems, are naturally more receptive to incorporating entrepreneurialism into the curriculum.
This means that what seems to be a debate about whether to be, or not to be, entrepreneurial, is really a debate about the meaning and value of entrepreneurial attitudes in the world of work.
An interesting study of students' expectations at the University of Luton (yes, I know) studying for a degree in Tourism and Hospitality (yes, I know) found that the students wanted to learn lots of deep knowledge about the tourism and hospitality industry, but they did not want to learn about how to run a business because, what does running a business have to do with being a tourism and hospitality expert and thus getting a good job in the tourism and hospitality industry? The employers, for their part, were not interested in whether students had deep academic knowledge about their alleged 'industry', but were simply looking for graduates who could read and understand basic stuff, write coherent sentences, and be polite to customers (Petrova and Ujma, Employability Case Study, Academy of Higher Education). Apparently, being literate and not alienating the customers are surprisingly important skills in the job market.
In that context, the role of 'entrepreneurship education' (yes, this is a thing) is somehow to connect the dots between what students think they ought to be learning, and what employers would like them to be learning, so that they can make a suitable match after graduation. This is not as easy as you'd think, when you have students focused on their consumer protection rights and employers who want graduates with a 'how can I be of service to you' attitude. You can see why the ideological debates creep in: ultimately it is not extremely easy for a graduate steeped in socialist ideals to offer obvious value to an employer who is trying to run a business and turn a profit (gasp!). Some very careful conversations are needed, to make this work.
According to Driessen and Zwart (1999) an entrepreneur has 10 important traits and skills:
The question is, can such traits and skills be taught and nurtured at university?
Freedom to pursue your own goals and ideals is an essential component of the individual liberty inherent in each human life. Problems arise when individual goals diverge from majority opinion as to what is best for the public interest or the collective good. The classic notion of a ‘free society’ is one in which the collective good, however defined, should not override individual liberty. Classical liberal philosophy thus defends the pursuit of individual goals on a number of different grounds.
Law is a fascinating field to study because it’s all about the day to day problems people face, and how those problems are resolved within the legal system. Legal systems are essentially about dispute resolution, and studying the weird and wacky range of disputes that come before the courts is always intriguing. What are these people fighting about? Why? What’s at stake? What outcome do they hope to achieve? What would a good solution to this problem look like? How much is all this going to cost, and who’s going to pay?
99% of working people in Tanzania are employed in the 'informal economy'. You might think that an economy which engages 99% of a country's workers should simply be called 'the economy', but the term 'informal' is used by development artists to distinguish the type of economy you find in Tanzania from the type of economy you find in, say, the UK. Undeveloped economies are 'informal' because they operate outside any formal legal framework, whereas in an advanced economy like the UK you can't really do anything, can you, without first consulting your expensive lawyers and having them brief you on a whole bunch of government rules and regulations.
To say that the government should Do Something to fix the challenges of the digital age, or that we need a New Law to control the robots before they steal all our jobs, rests on the assumption that the government knows what to do and how to do it; and that our brilliant lawmakers know precisely what law would be most appropriate and effective.
Technological innovation yields prosperity, but alas people do not progress at the same rate. Thus, economic growth also brings inequalities of fortune. Many people would prefer to stop others from striding forward, to ensure that they are not left behind. Obviously nobody likes being left behind. It's difficult to know what to do about progress because, as Angus Deaton puts it, we want to celebrate the ‘great escapes’ made possible by innovation and growth, but we also want to have regard to those who are still lagging behind: the ‘great left behind’.
What contractual terms would best govern termination of employment? How should we form agreements that would be in the best interests of both parties?
The ultimate goal of one’s working life is to achieve individual prosperity and wellbeing. This is most effectively sustained through free markets constructed upon the ideals of economic liberty, with the role of law limited to ensuring free and fair competition, protecting property rights, and enforcing contractual obligations.
The Court of Appeal has just announced its majority opinion that drivers who work for Uber are...well...Uber's workers, and so they have the same rights as other workers (essentially, claims to the minimum wage and paid time off). The courts have arrived at that conclusion by applying the duck test, i.e. if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck then it's absurd for Uber to argue that it's not a duck. By this reasoning, most people would say that Uber drivers are definitely workers because there we see the drivers, working hard, driving Uber cars, and Uber is making a lot of money off the sweat of their brow. That clearly means they're working for Uber, right?
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