Theories of Entrepreneurship: Historical Development and Critical Assessment

Martin Ricketts

in The Oxford Handbook of Entrepreneurship

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780199546992
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577383 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Theories of Entrepreneurship: Historical Development and Critical Assessment

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The historical evolution of ideas about the entrepreneur is a wide-ranging subject and one that can be organized in different ways — theorist by theorist, period by period, issue by issue and so forth. What follows is a compromise between these possibilities. This article starts with some very broad reflections about economic change over thousands of years and the connections between these changes and the economic thinking of the time. A recognizably ‘modern’ idea of the entrepreneur begins to emerge in the eighteenth century and part of this article is devoted to the role of entrepreneurship in classical and neoclassical economic theory. In the next five sections, the article looks at particular areas that have been associated with debates about the entrepreneurial role — uncertainty, innovation, economic efficiency, the theory of the firm, and economic development. A final section presents a brief summary and comments on the place of the entrepreneur in evolutionary models.

Keywords: economic change; economic thinking; neoclassical economic theory; theories of entrepreneurship; economic efficiency; innovation

Article.  11393 words. 

Subjects: Entrepreneurship ; Business History

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