The Speed Ethic: Accelerated Entrepreneurship, Frenetic Standstill and Start-Up Deceleration

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There is a widespread assumption that a valuable characteristic of entrepreneurs is speed. Entrepreneurs are good when they are quick at spotting opportunities, nimble in exploiting them, rapid in scaling their operations, and speedy in admitting failure. In short entrepreneurs are supposed to embody what we call the speed ethic. This is the valuation of hastefulness as a good in and of itself. Drawing on the work of Hartmut Rosa, we argue that this speed ethic is created by a wider process of social acceleration. We argue that speed ethic has a number of positives such as capturing first mover advantage and confirming to stakeholder pressure (particularly from investors). However, the speed ethic can lead to frenetic standstill. This happens when entrepreneurs become stuck in patterns of hyperactivity which leads to no significant change. An important part of frenetic standstill is ethical fragility, whereby entrepreneur's values seem increasing provision and empty. To address the problems with the speed ethic, we explore an alternative entrepreneurial ethic: slowness. We argue this involves nurturing a craft, long term commitment to an industry, and creation of substantive innovations. We illustrate this by drawing on some examples from the emerging 'slowtrepreneurship' movement. The paper concludes by suggesting that slow entrepreneurship could be nurtured by the creation of start-up decelerators.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonia Taneja
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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