On the Celebration of Failure in Serbian Technological Entrepreneurship from an Anthropological Perspective


  • Miloš Zarić PhD Candidate, Department of Etnology andd Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia




“stories of failure”, technological entrepreneurship, innovativeness,, creativity, “successful failure”, “total failure”, neoliberal system, “mature phase” of the second transition


The entering of the Serbian economy into a more markedly neoliberal phase after 2008 has been accompanied by attempts to implement the concept of the entrepreneurial economy into a national economic policy, thus creating the conditions for the emergence of an altered way of cultural conceptualization of the entrepreneurship phenomenon, and also for a change in the way in which the phenomenon of entrepreneurial failure is conceived. This paper analyzes “stories of failure”, typical narratives that technological entrepreneurs present as part of so-called Fuckup Nights, events organized in Belgrade as well as in a number of other cities around the world. The educational, propaganda and autodidactic function of these stories, which seek to bring about a change in the social perception of the phenomenon of entrepreneurial failure, is realized within an interpretative framework delineated by the discourse of the neoliberal system, which circulates a certain kind of implicit knowledge regarding the way that the surrounding reality and socially desirable roles assigned to subjects are defined. The way in which the phenomenon of entrepreneurial failure is conceived is linked to the paradoxes stemming from the concept of the entrepreneurial economy which, existing within the dominant neoliberal discourse, emphasizes the use of both innovativeness as an economically grounded concept and of creativity as an intrinsic, universal human quality, which is shaped by the mechanisms of culture but also in accordance with the demands of the current economic policy, with the aim of preserving the now already weakened neoliberal system. Through these concepts the modes of functioning of various types of entrepreneurial enterprises are examined, those involving elements of startups as well as entrepreneurial enterprises launched as part of the business processes of established technological companies. Starting from the assumption that the process of technological innovativeness functions both on the level of thought processes and the level of social interactions, that it involves the activity of the innovative as well as of other aspects of creative intelligence in individual subjects who engage in interaction on the level of the technology companies they work for on the one hand, and on the other, with consumers as a source of unrefined stimuli for the reconstruction of existing frameworks or their surpassing, with the aim of successfully (re)creating a certain product. By looking at the causes of failure in Serbian technological entrepreneurship, the paper points to the importance of the concepts of creativity and innovativeness in the narrative semantic structure of the analyzed stories, as well as to the heuristic potential of those concepts for the anthropological analysis of ideas and practices related to the phenomenon of contemporary Serbian entrepreneurship, which is connected to the characteristics of the process of Serbian transition in the period after 2008, which is referred to in the paper as the “mature phase” of the second transition.


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How to Cite

Zarić, Miloš. 2022. “On the Celebration of Failure in Serbian Technological Entrepreneurship from an Anthropological Perspective”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (4):1323–1359. https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v17i4.9.