Confusing Definitions of Entrepreneurship

9 05 2014

This post by Peter Klein has some interesting ideas about the problems involved in defining “entrepreneurship”.

Organizations and Markets

| Peter Klein |

Some of you have heard me complain before about the confusing ways “entrepreneur” and its cognates are used in the literature. Sometimes entrepreneurship refers to an outcome or phenomenon (startups, self-employment, high-growth firms), other times to a behavior or attribute (creativity, alertness, innovation, judgment, adaptation). I find the occupational, structural, and functional taxonomy useful, but other organizing schemes may be useful too. In any case, reading the entrepreneurship literature can be a frustrating experience.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so:

[T]he book’s diversity of approaches and styles is both a strength and also an inherent weakness. Some chapters offer comprehensive descriptions over long periods of time (e.g., Hudson, Hau, Wengenroth, Chan), while others focus on narrow aspects of entrepreneurship (e.g., Yonekura and Shimizu, Mokyr, Wolcott). The first kind appears to be written for a broad audience of noneconomic historians, whereas the second…

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