Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change
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Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change

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Edited by Cristiano Antonelli

This comprehensive and innovative Handbook applies the tools of the economics of complexity to analyse the causes and effects of technological and structural change. It grafts the intuitions of the economics of complexity into the tradition of analysis based upon the Schumpeterian and Marshallian legacies.
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Chapter 20: Government as entrepreneur: examples from US technology policy

Albert Link and Jamie R. Link

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20 Government as entrepreneur: examples from US technology policy1 Albert N. Link and Jamie R. Link 1. INTRODUCTION Throughout intellectual history as we know it, the entrepreneur has worn many faces and played many roles. The entrepreneur is the person who assumes the risk associated with uncertainty, the entrepreneur is the person who supplies financial capital, the entrepreneur is an innovator, the entrepreneur is a decision maker, the entrepreneur is an industrial leader, the entrepreneur is a manager or superintendent, the entrepreneur is an organizer and coordinator of economic resources, the entrepreneur is the owner of an enterprise, the entrepreneur is an employer of factors of production, the entrepreneur is a contractor, the entrepreneur is an arbitrageur, and the entrepreneur is an allocator of resources among alternative uses.2 These themes are not mutually exclusive descriptions of his or her roles or actions, but they all are themes that have been offered by scholars as identifiable entrepreneurial activities that occur within a market setting. But government actions, which are the theme of this chapter, are not necessarily market-based.3 Markets operate through the laws of supply and demand, and economic actors within markets respond to explicit and implicit prices.4 A similar analogy does not always hold for public sector actors or activities.5 What do we mean by the phrase government as entrepreneur?6 Based on the economic principle of market failure, government involvement in market activity – the provision of technology infrastructure, in particular, to remove the innovation barriers that bring about the...

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