The Role of Entrepreneurship Theory and Methods, Practice and Policy
Edited by Sameeksha Desai, Peter Nijkamp and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 2: The Entrepreneur in Economic Theory
2. The entrepreneur in economic theory Ronald W. McQuaid 2.1 INTRODUCTION Entrepreneurship has been seen as key to economic development in many countries across the globe for many years (OECD, 1998, 2003; UN, 2004). For instance, in the European Union’s Employment Strategies entrepreneurship has been given a major role in increasing the dynamism of economies and helping employment creation and improvement (CEC, 1999, 2005). However, there are a variety of meanings of the term ‘entrepreneurship’, which permeate and confuse the policy and theoretical debates. Indeed entrepreneurship is an elusive concept associated with a number of overlapping but distinct perspectives and meanings (Ahmed and McQuaid, 2005; Glancey and McQuaid, 2000). Sometimes the concept of entrepreneurship has been taken to mean: a new business start-up; an owner-manager of a small, micro or medium-sized enterprise (SMME); a function in the economy (such as resource allocation, risk-taking, ‘middleman’ or innovation); a form of behavior (with an entrepreneur being someone who purposefully and systematically searches and analyses change to identify and take the opportunities such changes might offer for economic or social innovation); a set of social or personal characteristics (such as being a great leader). Each of these perspectives has different implications for policies and for theory, yet the precise meaning or perspective on entrepreneurship is often not made explicit, as many writers implicitly combine more than one of these perspectives. Indeed, a more general theory of entrepreneurship might contain elements from all these perspectives, and regional economic development theory might include an explicit...
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