Schumpeter opens up new opportunities for entrepreneurship scholars

The biannual Schumpeter conference, held in Brisbane from July 2-5, opened up new opportunities for entrepreneurship scholars for collaboration with the broader evolutionary economics community. The conference brought together more than 200 delegates for a couple of days of lively discussion and debate at the University of Queensland. The Australian Centre of Entrepreneurship was a proud sponsor of this conference.

One of the key topics discussed at the conference was the future development of the scholarly field of evolutionary economics. Thereby, evolutionary economics seems to move into the direction of entrepreneurship. To cite one of the fields’ key contributors, evolutionary economics mainly “focuses on the processes that transform the economy from within and on their consequences for firms and industries, production, trade, employment and growth” (Witt, U. 2008). Thereby the field has emphasized and popularized the importance of innovation in the scientific community as well as among policy makers.

An often stated complaint at the conference was the lack of a micro-foundation of the underlying processes and the behavior of firms. And here is where entrepreneurship scholars from management schools might be able to contribute. As the early Schumpeter (1911/1934), I’m convinced that entrepreneurship is one of the processes which induce change in economic systems. We as entrepreneurship scholars have accumulated a body of knowledge about the determinants of individual entrepreneurial activity which might be useful for the micro foundation of evolutionary economics.

Interestingly, also entrepreneurship seems to move closer towards evolutionary economics. Intrapreneurship – one of the emerging streams within the field of entrepreneurship – investigates entrepreneurial behavior including the development and introduction of new products in existing firms. This is exactly what evolutionary economists have termed innovation. Entrepreneurship scholars interested in intrapreneurship are well advised to consult the relevant literature or even seek collaborations with evolutionary economists.

There are promising signs for the potential of interdisciplinary cooperation. At the Schumpeter conference roughly a quarter of the presented paper dealt with entrepreneurship. Furthermore high tier economic journal such as Journal of Evolutionary Economics and Research Policy increasingly publish entrepreneurship articles. As a starting point for interested entrepreneurship scholars, http://www.innoresource.org/ introduces the main ideas of and contributors to evolutionary economics. Uwe Cantner (http://www.microtheory.uni-jena.de/) and Ullrich Witt (www.econ.mpg.de/english/staff/evo/witt) are key players in evolutionary economics who have published entrepreneurship articles and are always open for discussing new ideas.

Witt, Ulrich (2008). Evolutionary economics. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition, v. 3, pp. 67-68.

Schumpeter, J. (1911). Theorie der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (transl. 1934, The Theory of Economic Development: An inquiry into profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle).

Michael Stuetzer

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