Entrepreneurship, knowledge and employment

The entrepreneur as villain or society’s savior? Economic progress and growth in Erik Gustaf Geijer’s writings

Hasselgren Björn, Uppsala University

Erik Gustaf Geijer (1783-1847) was a renowned historian and professor for nearly 30 years at Uppsala University. Besides being the leading historian in the first decades of 19th century Sweden he served as rector or the university, as a composer, a poet and a politician. A reoccurring theme in Geijer’s writings was the role of the capitalistic entrepreneur in the wider social and societal evolution. Geijer was widely and deeply engaged in the scholarly and political discussion of his time, in Sweden and England, but also in France and Germany. Over time the role of the entrepreneur and the individual was at the center of Geijer’s economic and social analysis. The capitalistic merchant or factory owner was stepwise favored, denounced as a potential villain but finally seen as more or less the savior of the economy and society with something like a Christian religious connotation. The paper will describe Erik Gustaf Geijer’s shifting view on freedom and the individual as a social and economic entrepreneur.


Keywords: entrepreneurship, evolution, individualism

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