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The purpose of this paper is to present and compare alternative theoretical frameworks for understanding entrepreneurship policy: targeted interventions to increase…
The purpose of this paper is to present and compare alternative theoretical frameworks for understanding entrepreneurship policy: targeted interventions to increase venture creation and/or performance. The authors contrast the Standard view of the state as a coherent entity willing and able to rectify market failures with an Individualistic view that treats policymakers as self-interested individuals with limited knowledge.
The authors draw on the perspective of “politics as exchange” to provide a taxonomy of assumptions about knowledge and incentives of both entrepreneurship policymakers and market participants. The authors position extant literature in relation to this taxonomy, and assess the implications of alternative assumptions.
The rationale for entrepreneurship policy intervention is strong under the Standard view but becomes considerably more tenuous in the Individualistic view. The authors raise several conceptual challenges to the Standard view, highlighting inconsistencies between this view and the fundamental elements of the entrepreneurial market process such as uncertainty, dispersed knowledge and self-interest.
Entrepreneurship policy research is often applied; hence, the theoretical rationale for intervention can be overlooked. The authors make the implicit assumptions of these rationales explicit, showing how the adoption of “realistic” assumptions offers a robust toolkit to evaluate entrepreneurship policy.
While the authors agree with entrepreneurship policy interventionists that an “entrepreneurial society” is conducive to economic development, this framework suggests that targeted efforts to promote entrepreneurship may be inconsistent with that goal.
The Individualistic view draws on the rich traditions of public choice and the entrepreneurial market process to highlight the intended and unintended consequences of entrepreneurship policy.
Ludwig Lachmann’s Capital and Its Structure ( 1978) is a classic in the literature in Austrian economics. It is mainly discussed in relation to the Austrian…
Ludwig Lachmann’s Capital and Its Structure ( 1978) is a classic in the literature in Austrian economics. It is mainly discussed in relation to the Austrian contributions to the macroeconomics debates of that time – from Hayek’s dispute with Keynes to the capital controversies of Cambridge UK and Cambridge US. Among Lachmann’s many ideas developed in that work, critical is his idea that the capital structure of an economy consists of heterogeneous capital goods that have multiple specific uses. This fact of the world makes the intertemporal coordination of economic plans a complex phenomenon and not a simple phenomenon. In the standard macroeconomic account, the coordination failure results from a distortion to the interest rate which miscommunicates to economic actors the underlying savings and consumption pattern in the economy at that time. This results in a boom/bust cycle, as the malinvestments in production projects are revealed in time and must go through a costly correction. But this discussion is simply an illustration of a much broader set of problems of relative prices as guides to productive activity in an economy and the problem of economic calculation. Our chapter explores the capital theoretic side of the socialist calculation debate and highlights the importance that an understanding of the capital-using economy consisting of production plans made up of heterogeneous goods with multiple specific uses is to the argument about the calculation problem being the lynchpin argument against the feasibility of socialist economic planning.
– The purpose of this paper is to consider the impact of Baumol’s work on entrepreneurship has had on framing the economic development puzzle.
The purpose of this paper is to consider the impact of Baumol’s work on entrepreneurship has had on framing the economic development puzzle.
In many ways, the intuition behind the paper is straightforward. Entrepreneurs allocate their time and attention based on the relative payoffs they face in any given social setting. If the institutional environment rewards productive entrepreneurship, then the time and attention of entrepreneurial actors in the economy will be directed toward realizing the gains from trade and the gains from innovation. If, on the other hand, there are greater returns from the allocation of that time and attention toward rent-seeking and even criminal activity, alert individuals will respond to those incentives accordingly. The simplicity of the point being made is part of the brilliance in Baumol’s article. As with other classics in economics, once stated the proposition seems to be so basic it is amazing that others did not put it that way beforehand.
It has been 25 years since Baumol published his paper in the Journal of Political Economy, and as pointed out, it has had a significant scientific impact. But to put things in perspective, James Buchanan’s “An economic theory of clubs” published in 1965 has accumulated roughly 3,500 citations, F.A. Hayek’s “The use of knowledge in society,” published in 1945 has over 12,000, and Ronald Coase’s “The problem of social cost” published in 1960 has over 28,000 citations. So Baumol’s paper would put him in rather elite company. The great strength of the paper is to focus the attention on the relative payoffs of productive, unproductive and destructive entrepreneurial activity. But one of the most significant disappointments of the subsequent history of this paper is a methodological one. The comparative case study approach that Baumol employed did not result in a renewed appreciation for narrative forms of empirical research in political economy. It could legitimately be argued that the sort of questions about the fundamental institutional causes of economic growth and development can only be captured with these more historical methods. Attempts to force fit this analysis into a set of methodological tools which have already revealed themselves to be inadequate to do justice of the role of institutions and disregard the underlying cultural norms and beliefs that characterize human sociability.
In this paper, the authors will focus on the contribution made by Baumol’s 1990 paper on the field of comparative political economy, and in particular on the literature on transitional political economy. Section 2 places Baumol’s argument in the context of the failure of neoclassical growth theory. Section 3, the authors argue that although the Baumol framing was an improvement over the old comparative economic systems literature, contemporary transitional political economists have failed to fully realize the implications of the institutional revolution. They have therefore been unable to understand the causes of the heterogeneity of outcomes among those countries that transitioned from communism to the market economy in the 1990s. In Section 4, the authors argue that the political economy of transition will gain from a more sophisticated view of the economic process of the market economy, an appreciation of the entrepreneurial function, and a deeper understanding of the role of formal and informal institutions and their effect on entrepreneurship. The authors will illustrate the point with some examples from the recent history of the Russian political and economic transition. Credible commitment problems and the deficiencies of the institutional reforms of the early 1990s were responsible for the failure of reallocating the entrepreneurial talent that existed in the Soviet economy to productive economic activities. The framework can therefore be used to solve the puzzle of why the announced liberalization of Russian markets and privatization of previously state-owned resources led to economic stagnation, the growth of black markets, and the rise of organized crime, instead of economic development through the operations of smoothly operating markets. Section 5 briefly concludes.
The Austrian School of Economics, pioneered in the late nineteenth century by Menger and developed in the twentieth century by Mises and Hayek, is poised to make significant contributions to the methodology, analytics, and social philosophy of economics and political economy in the twenty-first century. But it can only do so if its practitioners accept responsibility to pursue the approach to its logical conclusions with confidence and absence of fear, and with an attitude of open inquiry, acceptance of their own fallibility, and a desire to track truth and offer social understanding. The reason the Austrian school is so well positioned to do this is because (1) it embraces its role as a human science, (2) it does not shy away from public engagement, (3) it takes a humble stance, (4) it seeks to be practical, and (5) there remains so much evolutionary potential to the ideas at the methodological, analytical, and social philosophical level that would challenge the conventional wisdom in economics, political science, sociology, history, law, business, and philosophy. The author explores these five tenants of Austrian economics as a response to the comments on his lead chapter “What Is Still Wrong with the Austrian School of Economics?”