Power & Market

QJAE: Whither Goeth the Entrepreneur?

The following is a slightly amended version of the 2023 Ludwig von Mises Memorial Lecture sponsored by Yousif Almoayyed at the Austrian Economics Research Conference, Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama:

The year 2022 marked the fortieth publication anniversary of The Entrepreneur: Mainstream Views and Radical Critiques, which I wrote with the assistance of Albert Link. First published in 1982 by Praeger Publishers, this book represented our initial attempt to address the poverty of historical research on the nature and role of the entrepreneur in economic theory. The Entrepreneur was a work of intellectual history. It exposed ideas on the nature of entrepreneurship manifested through time by prominent economists. Its initial success was modest, but eventually interest in the historical roots of entrepreneurship grew alongside the expanded boundaries of entrepreneurship research.

Our original manuscript was amended and republished several times, culminating in A History of Entrepreneurship (Hébert and Link 2009). Anniversaries invite reflections. The meaning and significance of entrepreneurship in economic theory has occupied my thoughts on and off for more than four decades, initially because of my interest in the preclassical banker and economist Richard Cantillon (see, e.g., Hébert 1985). Israel Kirzner’s book Competition and Entrepreneurship (Kirzner 1973) further stimulated my interest, providing a virtual invitation to uncover how the great economic minds of the past dealt with the entrepreneur as an economic agent. As the twentieth century ended, the treasure trove of economic literature on the subject had not been seriously mined. Link and I set out to fill this void. This essay recounts the circumstances that provoked and shaped our research and publications in our persistent attempts to add light to what was a dark corner of economics.

Read the full article in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

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