Entrepreneurship, knowledge and employment

Who killed the Entrepreneur in Economics.

Sæther Arild, Agder Academy of Sciences and Letters

Today the entrepreneur is seldom found in any textbook in economics. However, from 1800 until the 1940s the entrepreneur was an important agent that played a significant role in the science of economics. In the 1940’s the entrepreneur disappeared from textbooks in economics. No investigation took place in the following years to determine if he had been exposed to a criminal act or if he managed to escape. Sixty years later an inquiry to determine what happened has been carried out. The investigators started by establishing how the entrepreneur was introduced into economics, and how he obtained a vital place in the development of economics as a discipline. Furthermore, how he attained a major place in textbooks. Here they limited their investigation to the United States and Norway. Second, they determined when and how the entrepreneur disappeared from textbooks in both countries, and tried to establish if it could be a homicide or a disappearance. Third, they limited the number of suspects to two, the Noble laureates Ragnar Frisch and Paul Samuelson, and analysed their motives. Both experienced the economic downturn after the first World War and the crisis in the thirties. They both came to believe that the market economy, where entrepreneurs played a major role, was responsible for the economic crisis. Frisch had no use of the entrepreneurs in the Oslo School of planned economy. Samuelson, who admired Frisch, had no place for the entrepreneur in his mathematical neo-classical economics. Fourth, Frisch eliminated the entrepreneur in his Theory of Production, and Samuelson did the same in his Economics: An Introductory Text. The investigators tried to determine whether they killed the entrepreneur, or if the entrepreneur escaped. They concluded that if their objective was to eliminate the entrepreneur once and for all, they failed. Entrepreneurs have been eradicated from economics but have an increasing role in business and management disciplines.


Keywords: Entrepreneur, planned economy, neoclassical economics

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