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  • Writer's pictureLucy Hatt

Visualising "Recognises their agency"

Vikas Kapil, Dave Jarman and I have been working on a series of animations to illustrate the threshold concepts of entrepreneurial thinking. This is the fifth threshold concept in our collection of seven. You can read about the whole set at

This is how we're envisaging "Recognises their Agency"

To explain this threshold concept, we're using the principle of "contrast", which is an aspect of Variation Theory*, where we learn about something by recognising the values of an aspect.

Imagine a situation where two individuals look at the same problem and respond to it differently.

Entrepreneurial thinking means understanding that we always have some agency to create value.

The problem at hand could be a broken window.

In one scenario you might think….

“Oh no - that window’s broken!”

“That’s terrible! I won’t be able to do my work at all - the wind and the rain will come in. It’s getting really cold! I can’t think because the window is broken!”

“Someone should fix this window. It’s typical of this place - they’ve made so many cutbacks, I bet it will take weeks to be fixed. and then it won’t be done properly. No one does anything properly these days.”

“I’m not surprised that this window is broken. This area is going to rack and ruin. The other day I heard there was a burglary around the corner and there’s so much knife crime in the news!”

“I expect the other windows will be broken soon too - these things attract more trouble. The water will get in and we’ll get damp and mould.”

But by recognising your agency, in another scenario you might think

“Oh no - that window’s broken!”

“I expect I can fix that. It might be fun!”

“Good job I wore my winter gloves today, they’ll protect me from the broken glass. Better get this mess cleared up before anyone else comes in and hurts themselves.”

“If I can get it fixed before lunch time, our meeting can still go ahead. and I will have saved the day! I can just see how pleased and impressed colleagues will be! Maybe I’ll be employee of the month again!”

“We could perhaps make that window openable - I always thought a little more air in this room wouldn’t go amiss. Or maybe we could replace it with coloured glass - that would look great!”

“Let’s clear up the glass for now and get some thick cardboard to stop the rain coming in, while I get the replacement glass and tools sorted.”

According to Bandura (2006)**, ‘human agency’ is about intentionally influencing one's functioning and life circumstances. When an individual sees the world through this lens, they see value creation as a self-organizing, proactive, and self-regulating individual.

Thinking entrepreneurially means believing that some change for the better is always possible, and focusing on what is within our control, rather than what is beyond it.

*See: Marton, F., Runesson, U., & Tsui, A. B. M. (2004). The space of learning. In F. Marton, A. B. M. Tsui, P. P. M. Chik, P. Y. Ko, & M. L. Lo (Eds.), Classroom discourse and the space of learning. Mahwah, NJ: Laurence Erlbaum.

**See: Bandura, A. (2006). Toward a Psychology of Human Agency. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(2), 164-180. doi:10.1111/j.1745-6916.2006.00011.x

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