Abstract

Theorists have struggled to definitively answer the question “Who is an entrepreneur?” for over 300 years. Exceptional minds representing lifetimes of contemplation and achievement have arrived at conflicting conclusions about this all-important question. Cantillon (1931 [1730]) stressed risk-bearing in the midst of uncertainty as the prima facie indicator of entrepreneurship, as did Knight (1921). Menger (1976 [1871]) argued that entrepreneurial risk-bearing is inconsequential, and Clark (1892, 1907) and Schumpeter (1934) both advocated that only the owners of capital truly bear risk, not entrepreneurs per se. Mises (1949) asserted that “every actor is always an entrepreneur and speculator” (p.253). Taussig (1915) stressed that innovation is inconsequential to entrepreneurship, but Schumpeter (1934) contended that innovation alone represents the unique core of entrepreneurial activity.

In similar fashion, empirical researchers have been equally unable to achieve a consensus definition of “the entrepreneur.” Gartner (1989) after reviewing dozens of entrepreneurship journal articles, lamented: “many (and often vague) definitions of the entrepreneur have been used” (p.48), that many studies never even attempted to define the entrepreneurs they were researching, and that few studies employed the same definitions.

Share

COinS