Uncertainty as Entrepreneurial Motivation: Tuche, karma and the Necessity of Action

  • Nandita RoyEmail author


In theories which contribute to the understanding of uncertainty in entrepreneurial action, scholars have traditionally attributed a negative connotation to uncertainty. This paper seeks to posit an understanding of uncertainty derived from Greek and Indian philosophy, where action of the human agent is not deterred by uncertainty, and rather, occurs despite uncertainty. This idea may be beneficial in making future entrepreneurs less apprehensive about uncertainty, by helping them locate the lessons from philosophy. I look at existing ideas that explore uncertainty in entrepreneurial motivation, and present a multidisciplinary approach which sees uncertainty as a force that increases intent of action, rather than deterring it by drawing on the understanding of consequence and action in Aristotelean thought and Hindu philosophy, and extend the concepts of tuche and karma to posit a theoretical position which sees uncertainty as a factor that encourages entrepreneurial action and motivation. The understanding of uncertainty in management literature has been approached primarily from two disciplinary positions - economics and organisational theory. In economics, the classical understanding of uncertainty which commenced with Frank Knight’s Risk, Uncertainty and Profit (1921), was largely abandoned in later years for a more quantifiable approach of calculating risk. Uncertainty, characteristically nebulous and difficult to grapple with, is unquantifiable. It is defined, in fact, by Knight, as something which cannot be predicted and quantified. Thus, in academics, where almost all disciplines try to make sense of the way the world works, uncertainty has always been a problematic concept.


Aristotle Entrepreneurship Indian philosophy Karma Uncertainty 


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Conflict of Interest

The author declares there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indian Institute of Management LucknowLucknowIndia

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