Marshall and Schumpeter on Evolution

Marshall and Schumpeter on Evolution

Economic Sociology of Capitalist Development

Edited by Yuichi Shionoya and Tamotsu Nishizawa

This unique and original work contends that, despite the differences between Marshallian and Schumpeterian thinking, they both present formidable challenges to a broad type of social science beyond economics, particularly under the influence of the German historical school. In a departure from the received view on the nature of the works of Marshall and Schumpeter, the contributors explore their themes in terms of an evolutionary vision and method of evolution; social science and evolution; conceptions of evolution; and evolution and capitalism.

Chapter 9: Rebuilding Schumpeter’s Theory of Entrepreneurship

Richard Swedberg

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, evolutionary economics, history of economic thought


Richard Swedberg For those who are interested in entrepreneurship, the last few decades have been both exhilarating and frustrating.1 There has been a general realization, on the one hand, that entrepreneurship is at the centre of the type of high and stable economic growth that constitutes prosperity. On the other hand, and despite an avalanche of writings and courses on entrepreneurship, there has been little substantive theoretical progress when it comes to the theory of entrepreneurship itself. While there today exists a valuable and rapidly growing literature on ethnic entrepreneurship, emerging entrepreneurship, women and entrepreneurship, national innovation systems, and so on, there still does not exist one central theory of entrepreneurship, on which the various branches of entrepreneurship can build. This is where Schumpeter comes into the picture. Of all the theories of entrepreneurship that exist, his theory is still, to my mind, the most fascinating as well as the most promising theory of entrepreneurship that we have. Let me clarify. I do not argue that Schumpeter’s theory, as it is understood today, can supply the key to the mystery of entrepreneurship. What I suggest, however, and also devote this chapter to, is the argument that it may well constitute the point of departure for the development of the theory of entrepreneurship. Hence the title of my chapter: rebuilding Schumpeter’s theory of entrepreneurship. In order to use Schumpeter’s ideas as one’s point of departure for the construction of a new theory of entrepreneurship of Schumpeterian inspiration, at least two things...

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