Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Mythopoeia of the entrepreneur: narrative of a capitalist myth

Galvão de Almeida Rafael, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

It is possible to make a case that modern theories of entrepreneurship allow for a heroic treatment of the entrepreneur. The most known scholars of entrepreneurship, such as Joseph Schumpeter, Israel Kirzner, Fritz Redlich, among others, have argued about the uniqueness of the entrepreneur in the development process. Public intellectuals such as Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand have inculcated the virtues of entrepreneurship and free initiative especially in the Reagan Era American audience, who saw a shift to a more individualistic view of the economy. Therefore, the entrepreneur has become a different type of person, who creates and innovates, contributing to making the world a better place. By allowing this narrative to spread – that the entrepreneur has a “heroic” function in capitalist society – economics has propagated the myth of the heroic entrepreneur. Literature on mythology has argued the word “myth” should not be used solely in negative context, on the contrary, they are narratives that guide a people and this is something that has been recognized by both rhetoric of economics and narrative economics. Thus, this article combines the literature on mythology, both academic and popular ones (such as Joseph Campbell’s monomyth model), and literature on the history of entrepreneurship to analyze how the process of creation of myths – mythopoeia – impacted the acceptance of the idea that entrepreneurs are heroes in the economic system. The article also seeks to analyze this myth critically, by pointing the flaws and possibilities of the myth.

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Keywords: heroism, entrepreneurship, narrative economics, rhetoric of economics, monomyth, history of entrepreneurship, social history

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