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Leadership and Entrepreneurship in a Turbulent World

Leadership and Entrepreneurship in a Turbulent World

By Dr Sebastian Aparicio

Over the last few years we have seen different types of crises around the world.

Some of these crises have been associated with financial aspects, mostly in the United States and Europe; some others dealt (and are still dealing) with humanitarian issues based on political violence, taking place in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Venezuela, etc.

Unfortunately, thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes and move to other countries to start a new life. This massive exodus has created different reactions from around the world.

On the one hand, there are some countries who have set the foundations to provide support and help for those who are on their way or who have arrived. This is in the case of refugee and asylum policies which have benefited a high number of people through inclusive strategies.

But on the other hand, different negative reactions have also taken place in certain parts of the world, where different exclusion policies have emerged. This is the case of, for instance, the United States and the United Kingdom, where certain political parties have led initiatives to some extent to close borders. This would be, for example, the American border wall to stop the entrance of Latin American people in general, and Mexicans in particular, or Brexit, where the United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union.

These examples make us think about the challenges that governments across the globe have in terms of strategic management and public policy. A reflection on what should be the role of civil society in facing these economic and humanitarian issues also emerges. In his books Everything in its Place: Entrepreneurship and the Strategic Management of Cities, Regions, and States and The Entrepreneurial Society, David Audretsch suggests governments and societies should take responsibility for their own economic development by strategically managing their local, regional and national environment.

The author also invites the creation of economic transformation through inclusive strategies. Although in some cases it is thought a development process comes only from those governmental initiatives, the reality is that
the behaviour of households and firms is fundamental to overcome these turbulent times. One of these behaviours and policy mechanisms is related to entrepreneurial activity. In particular, it is commonly recognised individuals not only bring benefits to the government when deciding to become entrepreneurs but also to the entire society

It is also recognised that the formal (rules, regulations, etc.) and informal (social norms, values, etc.) environments condition entrepreneurship. To some extent, the institutional environment is also characterised by leadership styles, since some societies as a whole, usually developed countries, lead collaborative projects which benefit entire communities including charity campaigns and traditional celebrations. Some developing countries, quite contrary, tend to work in isolation and are grounded on an individualistic behaviour, creating weak ties between people and communities, which tend to remain disconnected.

Looking at the entrepreneurship level, international projects such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show developing countries predominantly have more entrepreneurs driven by necessity issues than developed countries, which present more entrepreneurs motivated by opportunity recognition and innovation. This information may lead us to think that depending on the type of leadership, among other factors, countries may differ on their level and quality of entrepreneurship.
In this regard, societies characterised by charismatic leadership tend to involve people into a common project, so encouraging entrepreneurs to identify business opportunities to help communities. Based on this reasoning, leadership styles associated with inclusion initiatives should be learned and promoted by universities, particularly business schools, to equip people with the entrepreneurial knowledge and values to solve crises and problems in turbulent times.

This article was first published in IMPACT magazine in January 2019.

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