Responsible entrepreneurship

Responsible entrepreneurship is hot. When asked for their most prominent topic in education and research, without exception all schools of business and economics will put this on top of the list. It is a broad topic that touches upon many issues in modern management. In this foreword of Talkin’ Business I will try to answer the following burning question: whose responsibility is responsible entrepreneurship?

In the eighties, I remember having heated discussions with a colleague from SBE’s Department of Organisation and Strategy, while coordinating a course on quality management. Point of dispute: whose responsibility is it to deliver quality service to consumers without losing track of long term sustainability? Based on the US literature available on that topic at the time, I concluded that it was the responsibility of the top management, and that there should be a top-down dedication to service quality with appropriate incentives that would benefit the consumers, instead of focussing on quantity of sales. My colleague was advocating the opposite; he claimed that without an intrinsic belief in delivering quality, sustainable service would not be possible, and that employees should be intrinsically motivated to deliver high quality service both in the short and the long term.  Over the years I have come to lean towards his point of view. Still, for companies it is nothing short of an Herculean challenge to pair sustainability and quality. Also, the question remains whether the company’s leadership will be powerful enough to create an organisation that has both the short and long term interests of all consumers and other stakeholders in mind.

Jos Lemmink, Dean

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