Outcomes and Perspectives
Chapter 10: The Entrepreneurial and Innovation Orientation of French, German and Dutch Engineers: The Proposal of a European Context Based Upon Some Empirical Evidence from Two Studies
10. The entrepreneurial and innovative orientation of French, German and Dutch engineers: the proposal of a European context based upon some empirical evidence from two studies1 Alain Fayolle, Jan Ulijn and Jean-Michel Degeorge INTRODUCTION Economic history has shown us the innovating and entrepreneurial tendencies of many engineers in France, The Netherlands, Germany and also in other countries. Gustave Eiffel, André Citroën, Francis Bouygues, and Conrad Schlumberger are some of the most famous French entrepreneur engineers; Gerard Philips, Hubert van Doorne (founder of DAF Trucks), Cornelis Lely (hydraulic works) and Anthony Fokker (see Heerkens and Ulijn, 2000) are Dutch examples; Werner von Siemens, Gottlieb Daimler and Rudolf Diesel are German ones. In other countries, James Watt, Richard Trevithick, Robert Fulton and John Fleming fall into the same category. The international literature on these subjects, surprisingly enough, has little on the entrepreneurial behaviour of engineers, much more on their propensity to innovate. The interest of an international study focusing on the entrepreneurial and innovating behaviours of engineers seems to us obvious. Entrepreneurial engineers seem to be innovators and creators of economic wealth: they contribute heavily to the renewal of social and industrial structure. A yearly study carried out by ‘l’Usine Nouvelle’ in France on the ‘Champions of Innovation’ gives us an overview of innovating young start-up companies. The results show that, very often, engineers are at the origin of the innovating companies selected for the study. It seems that, worldwide, the engineer is a key element in technological innovation. The economic...
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