innovation and its relationship to entrepreneurial theory./different characteristics/traits of an entrepreneur. Many authors describe different types of entrepreneur e.g. Social, lifestyle, family, female etc. Are they basically the same or are there differences between them?
choose 1 of the following questions as your assessment title for semester A:
Q1: Construct a 3000 word detailed analysis of innovation and its relationship to entrepreneurial theory.
Question 1: The entrepreneur can be viewed as “the Agent of Innovation” (Schumpeter), therefore innovation defines entrepreneurship. Discuss and argue.
You need to demonstrate a good understanding of the process and different types of innovative behaviour and the role they play within a business environment. You may wish to include ‘open innovation’ and the role it plays in technology business or incremental or radical. You need to argue, defend and debate your viewpoint and uses many sources of reference to ‘back these up’. You also need to include and distinguish between key author’s views/theories and relate these to activity which may take place with both a local and national environment.
(You may wish to include other entrepreneurial areas such as: risk, opportunity spotting and both characteristics/trait theories within your assignment-these are listed as a guide only)
Q2) Present a 3000 word critical review of the many different characteristics/traits of an entrepreneur. Many authors describe different types of entrepreneur e.g. Social, lifestyle, family, female etc. Are they basically the same or are there differences between them? Please make your viewpoint clear from the beginning and argue through key theoretical debate.
In each case we expect reference to at least 6 key authors and their theories of entrepreneurship; these need to be debated and argued fully to obtain an assignment pass. You need to construct an argument and debate this through a coherent, structured essay; the stronger essays will relate theories to real world examples of entrepreneurship. The assignment should be presented as a scholarly essay with appropriate referencing, not as a business style report with short sub-sections and bullet points.
Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, by
Thomas K. McCraw, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 719 pages,
In Joseph A. Schumpeter’s (1883-1950) encyclopedic History of Economic Analysis,
Schumpeter began by proclaiming that histories of economics should confine themselves to
economic analysis, which he defined as “the analytic or scientific aspects of economic thought”
(1954: 1). Schumpeter then proceeded to ignore his own edict, for over 1000 small-print pages.
Having preached analysis-only Schumpeter practiced more ecumenically, weaving together
intellectual history, biography, and economic sociology. Indeed, Schumpeter spent most of his
last decade writing the 800,000 words of the ferociously erudite History, and thereby failing to
complete a long-planned work of economic analysis.
Thomas McCraw’s splendid new book brilliantly illuminates this Schumpeterian
paradox, and the many others that made Schumpeter, as Phillip Mirowski put it, “a living,
breathing contradiction” (1994: 5). Prophet of Innovation is not just a beautifully drawn portrait
of Schumpeter’s life and times, it is also a distinguished business historian’s meditation on the
two opposed cultures of political economy post-1870: history and theory. The Prophet of
Innovation, among its other accomplishments, tells the story of how a great and productive
intellect wrestled with the two-cultures problem in political economy. In the work of
Schumpeter, McCraw finds the very personification of political economy’s struggle between
history and theory.
Just as Schumpeter’s work personifies the roles for history and theory in economics, so
too does McCraw make Schumpeter’s turbulent life and times a metaphor for Schumpeter’s great
subject, capitalism. Schumpeter was four when his father died. An exile, he moved his
household 23 times in his lifetime, living in five different countries. His first marriage failed.
Though brilliant and widely accomplished, Schumpeter had to reinvent himself many times. He
failed as a lawyer, was dismissed as president of a private Vienna bank, and, as the new Austrian
republic’s finance minister, lasted a mere seven months. Most damaging of all, in 1926
Schumpeter’s second wife Annie died in childbirth, and the child died as well. Schumpeter’s
beloved mother died in the same year, a three-fold emotional wounding from which Schumpeter,
then 42, never fully recovered. Ahead still lay the Great Depression and another murderous war
in Europe, which Schumpeter was presciently predicting as early as 1928. “Here was a rarity,”
Daniel Bell said of Schumpeter, “an economist with a tragic sense of life” (485).
In political economy, the tragedy is a genre of the growth story, which is to be contrasted
with the equilibrium story. All equilibrium narratives end in the same place. In equilibrium.
There’s no role for a hero, tragic or other. Even the true protagonist, the Walrasian Auctioneer, is
hidden away, unexplained. Growth stories, in contrast, are more open-ended, uncertain, and
path-dependant. In growth stories, history matters. Even tragedies, which also end predictably,
must tell the beginning first. Thus do political economy’s best-known growth stories provide a
Adam Smith’s hero was the prudent man. Commercial society depends upon the prudent
man, who behaves virtuously even when it is in his material interest to do otherwise. The
prudent man’s virtues (frugality, foresight, self-control) are of the small-bore, bourgeois variety,
but without them, the invisible hand cannot perform its magic.
Marx, too, wrote in the growth genre. So, even Marx’s determinism – wherein capitalism
necessarily seeds its own destruction – found room for a hero: the radical intellectual. Never
mind that the death of capitalism was preordained: it is the radical intellectual who can pierce the
veil of his false consciousness to correctly see the truth of historical inevitability, and it is the
radical intellectual who can lead the vanguard of proletarian revolt.
For John Maynard Keynes, the hero was the economist qua expert (or, as per Robert
Skidelsky, The Economist as Savior). The hero economist sees the folly of crushing war
reparations, and the error of Say’s Law, and urges upon the powerful a new law — that prudent
monetary and fiscal stimulus can restore traction to aggregate demand temporarily mired in a
liquidity trap. An enlightened government, which is to say, one prepared to receive tuition from
its technocratic betters, can thereby save capitalism from itself. The expert-guided government
can reign in capitalism’s destructive tendencies sufficient to realize the ongoing benefits of its
awesome productive powers.
Keynes, Schumpeter’s exact contemporary, was his great rival. Schumpeter admired and
envied Keynes, but when Keynes died in 1946, Schumpeter’s obituary gave Keynes the same
off-key, perfunctory treatment he would later give Adam Smith in the History of Economic
Analysis, the “discredit of not adding a single innovation to the techniques of economic analysis”
Schumpeter was not averse to Keynes’ economist-as-hero construct. This was a man who
liked to say he had aspired to become the world’s greatest economist, lover and horseman. Alas,
said Schumpeter, pausing for effect, things hadn’t worked out so well with the horses. But
Schumpeter thought that Keynes’ stagnationist ideology provided intellectual cover to those far
more hostile to capitalism than he, and, moreover, that Keynes’ emphasis on the short run invited
trouble from governments naturally inclined to profligacy and incompetence. It was naïve,
Schumpeter believed, to hope that the state would do what its economic experts tell it to do.
And, government fecklessness to one side, what if the experts have got it wrong? The
tendency to claim too much for abstract theory, to confuse one’s model with the actual economy,
Schumpeter named the Ricardian Vice. Schumpeter admired and promoted analytical methods.
His very first paper was a call for mathematics in political economy, and he was a co-founder of
the Econometric Society. No mathematician himself, he incessantly urged mathematical training
upon his students and junior colleagues. But Schumpeter believed that economics, especially
when its claims were made the basis for policy, required more. Tempting though it was to
succumb to the elegance of a story constructed of only a few well-chosen variables, Schumpeter,
ever rigorous, argued that a fully realized policy science needed insights from history, sociology,
politics, even philosophy.
Schumpeter’s hero, of course, was the entrepreneur, “the agent of innovation,” and,
Schumpeter said, “the pivot on which everything turns” (7). Schumpeter’s now famous theory of
entrepreneurship was developed first in his pioneering Theory of Economic Development (1911),
a precocious scholar’s attempt to understand the evolution of economies, written during his early
academic years, at the University of Czernowitz.
Capitalist economies go up and down. So much would have been evident to any observer
who had lived through the business-cycle volatility of the 1890s. But, Schumpeter said, capitalist
economics also grow over time, cycles notwithstanding. In the short run, there are ups and
downs; but, in the long run, there is growth.
Only 28 years old, the young Schumpeter judged Walrasian-style equilibrium analysis,
which he admired, as empirically inadequate — too irreducibly static to explain economic
growth. Equilibrium analysis’ passive, price-taking agents, and its implication of continual
economic stationarity were at odds with observable real-world business behavior, and with the
continual process of disruptive change so evident in real economies. What was needed, he said,
was a theory that could explain the dynamism of capitalist economies, and its effects upon
growth and business cycles. Schumpeter found his answer in the entrepreneur and his function,
innovation. Entrepreneurial innovation propels capitalist economies upward, albeit along a very
The entrepreneur, however, was mostly missing from Anglophone economics, which had
long followed David Ricardo by identifying productive function with membership in one of the
three great English socioeconomic classes at the turn of the 19th century: labor from the working
class, land from the aristocracy, and capital from the merchant class. The Ricardian triad left
little room for the entrepreneurial function; 19th century Anglophone economics tended to
identify the entrepreneur with the capitalist, or with the manager. Robert Solow’s mid-20thcentury
growth theory recognized that Ricardian factors – more workers, more capital, or more
capital per worker — could not wholly explain economic growth. Innovation mattered, too. Yet,
stuck with Ricardo’s framework, Solow did not explain innovation, he consigned it to the
statistical dustbin of a shift parameter.
In Schumpeter’s account, it is the entrepreneur who creates innovation. And innovation
is not only invention. Driven by competition to improve technology, finance and organization,
the Schumpeterian entrepreneur does more than textbook equilibrium theory allowed. Said
Schumpeter in 1942, writing in Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy:
[I]n capitalist reality as distinguished from its textbook picture, it is not [textbook] . . .
competition which counts but the competition from the new commodity, the new
technology, the new source of supply, the new type of organization (the largest-scale unit
of control for instance)–competition which commands a decisive cost or quality
advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the
existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives (1950: 82).
Innovation, that is, propels the capitalist economy with “gales of creative destruction,” the
memorable phrase that Schumpeter borrowed from Werner Sombart.
Schumpeter vividly characterized innovation as “industrial mutation,” which “incessantly
revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly
creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It
is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .” (1950:
83). Capitalism, Schumpeter continued, “not only never is but never can be stationary . . .”
(ibid). Change is the only constant in the evolution of capitalist economies.
But the rate of change is not. Schumpeter argued that capitalist economies evolve not
smoothly but discontinuously. Schumpeterian evolutionary change is punctuated rather than
gradual – the disruptions of entrepreneurial innovation occur, as Schumpeter put it, at
“irregularly regular” intervals. In this important sense, Schumpeter’s theory of economic
evolution is non-Darwinian. Contrast it with Alfred Marshall, whose Principles of Economics
frontispiece recorded the same gradualist motto found in The Origin of Species, “natura non facit
saltum,” nature doesn’t make leaps.
Schumpeterian competition drives innovation, but it also begets imitators, “swarms” of
which copy their rival’s innovation, attracting investment, and leading to a boom. When the
original innovator’s profit advantage is eliminated, investment moves elsewhere, and the sector
may even shrink, until the next disruptive innovation, which restarts the cycle. But the Great
Depression seemed to challenge Schumpeter’s vision: why were entrepreneurs not jump-starting
Schumpeter’s reply was the ponderous, unlovely Business Cycles (1939), a
monumentally ambitious two-volume book that attempted nothing less than a history of capitalist
processes, and that moreover, attempted to model business cycles as the product of interacting
medium (40 months), long (8-10 years) and very long (50-60 years) wave cycles. Schumpeter’s
desire for an exact economics led him to abandon the uncertainty and complexity of “irregularly
regular” for the false precision of three-cycle wave theory. Paul Samuelson said that the book
“smacked of Pythagorean moonshine” (253).
Other reviewers were kinder, but the general reception of Business Cycles was tepid, not
least because Keynes’ General Theory had been published three years prior, and was on its way
to becoming a runaway success. McCraw tells of the 1939 Harvard seminar organized by
Schumpeter’s students to discuss Business Cycles. It quickly became clear that no one had read
the book, and all anyone talked about was Keynes. Schumpeter, shamed, reacted with a fury he
rarely revealed publicly.
McCraw reads Business Cycles as an inflection point in Schumpeter’s intellectual life: it
was the last time Schumpeter attempted to join economic history and economic theory – the
turning point “in Schumpeter’s decades-long intellectual wrestling match with himself” (271).
Schumpeter still believed deeply that “economic historians and economic theorists can make an
important and socially valuable journey together, if they will” (475). But, in Schumpeter’s
remaining decade, and in his own work, increasingly, they would not.
McCraw suggests that the failure of Business Cycles may have informed Schumpeter’s
approach to Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, a book in which Schumpeter located his
theory of entrepreneurial innovation and economic growth in the great themes of social thought.
Schumpeter once airily dismissed it as a “potboiler,” but McCraw regards it one of the great
books of the twentieth century. Writing at the darkest moment of a dark century, concerned
about the fate of Europe and indeed of the whole of liberal capitalism, Schumpeter shook off the
usual (self-imposed) scholarly apparatus, and allowed himself to say what he thought.
The book is indeed a tour de force. Having produced a brilliant critical reading of Marx;
Schumpeter then does Marx one better with one of the best analyses of capitalism ever written,
in which Schumpeter famously asked, “can capitalism survive?” “No,” he answered, “I do not
think it can.”
This rhetorical stunner was a prediction not a judgment. Schumpeter greatly admired the
cultivated bourgeois life he thought was possible only with capitalism. And, capitalism, though
it unavoidably distributed its bountiful fruits unequally, was, Schumpeter said, good for the
working class in the long run. Arthur Smithies, Schumpeter’s student and Harvard colleague put
Schumpeter’s view this way: “the capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing
more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls for steadily
decreasing amounts of effort” (1950: 640).
But these virtues were not enough to save capitalism. Inverting Marx’s prophecy,
Schumpeter said it is not the immiserated who revolt, but those who have benefited from
capitalism’s fruits. Capitalism’s prodigious wealth production funds the creation of a kind of
chattering class — bohemians, bureaucrats, journalists, lawyers, and, yes, academics – whose
social standing, enabled by their vulgar entrepreneur grandparents, affords them an aristocratic
platform from which to reject and to undermine bourgeois values, the mores that are so essential
to economic life under capitalism.
Capitalism, then, formidable as it appears, is sociologically fragile. And capitalism is
sociologically fragile because it is so economically successful. Schumpeter’s ironic verdict on
the fate of capitalism tells not just of his propensity for contradiction, it also underscores the
importance of multi-disciplinary scholarship to Schumpeter. Right or wrong, Schumpeter’s
prophecy could not have been arrived at with economic theory alone.
Of course, Schumpeter was wrong. And some might argue that Schumpeter went astray
precisely because he did not stick to economic theory alone. Robert Solow’s (2007) review of
Prophet of Innovation disparaged Capitalism, Social and Democracy as so much Big Think, an
“overarching [attempt] to capture a whole socioeconomic system in a few grand
Prophet of Innovation’s valedictory chapter summarizes what the book has already
shown, by demonstration: Thomas McCraw is himself a Schumpeterian regarding the nature of
political economy. McCraw laments that political economy’s history wing has been destroyed in
North American departments of economics, and he argues that academic economics has become
too narrow. Historical approaches to political economy live on at Harvard Business School,
where McCraw is Straus Professor of Business History, Emeritus.
This is no accident. Schumpeterian subjects – innovation, entrepreneurship, business
strategy – form the very heart of business school curricula. And Schumpeterian ideas remain
influential, fifty-eight years after his death, in departments of politics, sociology and history
(497). But they are mostly ignored in Economics departments, in large part because they have
proven too difficult to formalize – to fit into the maximization cum equilibrium method that still
defines academic economics (500).1
Schumpeter, his friend and colleague Gottfried Haberler (1950) said, was a great
economist because he was so much more than just an economist. Schumpeter’s polymathic
breadth made his own work extremely difficult to describe, Haberler said, but Thomas McCraw
has described it. Fittingly, Prophet of Innovation manages the Schumpeterian feat of
synthesizing history, economics and biography, all of which were needed to produce this fully
realized, beautifully drawn portrait of a complex man, and of his great subject, capitalism — its
1 One might admit a partial exception for the “new growth” theory, a relatively recent
economics, its social institutions, and, first among equals, its historical record.
Thomas C. Leonard
Haberler, Gottfried (1950) “Joseph Alois Schumpeter 1883-1950.” The Quarterly Journal of
Economics, Vol. 64, No. 3, pp. 333-372.
Mirowski (1994) “Doing What Comes Naturally: Four Metanarratives on What Metaphors Are
For” in Philip Mirowski (ed.), Natural Images in Economic Thought. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, pp. 3-19.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1954) History of Economic Analysis New York: Oxford University Press.
Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1950) Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (3rd edition). London: Allen
Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1939) Business Cycles: A Theoretical, Historical and Statistical Analysis
of Capitalist Processes. New York: Macmillan.
Smithies, Arthur (1950) “Memorial: Joseph Alois Schumpeter 1883-1950.” The American
Economic Review, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 628-648.
Solow, Robert (2007) “Heavy Thinker,” Review of Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter
and Creative Destruction, by Thomas K. McCraw. The New Republic, May 21, 2007,
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