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  • Writer's pictureLucy Hatt

Separating entrepreneurial thinking from a neo-liberal approach



Thanks to Dr Jane Nolan and Dr Carys Watts for their contributions to this post.


As a UK academic I am very conscious of the impact a neo-liberal approach has had on how knowledge is seen and value is conceived. In a culture where everything needs to be ‘auditable', only things that can be counted, ‘count’, and ‘value’ no longer incapsulates “values”.

But if knowledge becomes defined almost exclusively as explicit, possess-able, manageable and assessable, the risk is that links to intrinsic goodness and the fulfilment of personal values become lost. The act of creating instrumental value that is disassociated from our personal values eventually becomes meaningless however financially orientated one is.

If knowledge (and value) exist purely as outwardly focussed and external to individuals, forms of knowledge or value that are more conceptual, tacit, personal, inward-focused, slippery, and less easily tamed risk extinction by being relegated or ignored entirely (Collini, 2012).

People’s actions are motivated by their personal values in the day to day, not by larger political assumptions. People are pursuing their entrepreneurial freedoms within marketplaces whilst taking responsibility for their own individual actions (Harvey, 2005).

Contrary to the motivations of the 'ideal subject' suggested by Margaret Thatcher’s enterprise culture (1984), people are not solely driven by over-arching political systems of neoliberalism and consumerism, but, instead by their values and beliefs in the day to day (Kipnis, 2007, 2008; Winkler-Reid, 2017).

This includes teachers who are motivated to develop their students’ capacity for critical and cultural enquiry and a sense of identity as members of a community of practice (Knights, 2005).

Our understanding of the role of the entrepreneurial agent changes when value creation is conceptualized as a way of engaging stakeholders in a joint and cooperative enterprise of creating value for each other” (Freeman et al., 2007) and the definition of value is extended to include the realization and fulfilment of personal values linked to intrinsic good.

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