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Spillovers from public entrepreneurship: a case study

Caleb Fuller (Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)
Dylan DelliSanti (Department of Economics, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

ISSN: 2045-2101

Article publication date: 10 April 2017




Existing scholarship indicates that more research is needed to explore beneficial spillovers from public entrepreneurship. The purpose of this paper is to fill the gap in that literature by examining a case of public entrepreneurship by a corporation. While political engagement by private firms frequently reduces to rent-seeking, this paper explores an instance in which public entrepreneurship by a private firm lead to beneficial spillovers – specifically, positive externalities resulting from the engagement of Cummins Engine Company with city government in Columbus, Indiana. In the case study, these spillovers consist of improved infrastructure, altered norms, and the reintroduction of economic calculation.


This case study uses publications in popular outlets, newspapers, and historical documents to understand the relationship between Cummins Engine Company and its local government.


Contrary to the presumption that public engagement by private firms necessarily reduces to rent-seeking, the activities of the Cummins Engine Company lead to beneficial public spillovers by way of improved infrastructure and norms, as well as by restoring a degree of economic calculation to the production of public buildings in Columbus, Indiana.


The authors illustrate the precise mechanisms that generate the potential spillovers from public entrepreneurship that Klein et al. (2010) explore theoretically.



The authors would like to thank Richard Wagner, Jennifer Dirmeyer, David Lucas, Joshua Hall, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Any remaining errors are our own.


Fuller, C. and DelliSanti, D. (2017), "Spillovers from public entrepreneurship: a case study", Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 72-91.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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