Geoffrey G. Jones and R. Daniel Wadhwani
Since the 1980s, entrepreneurship has emerged as a topic of growing interest among management scholars and social scientists. The subject has grown in legitimacy, particularly in business schools. This scholarly interest has been spurred by a set of recent developments in the United States. This article begins by providing a brief introduction to the origins and evolution of historical research on entrepreneurship. It then turns to explore a series of different streams of business-history research that deal with issues of entrepreneurship and historical change. The article highlights the ways in which historical context shaped the structure of entrepreneurial activity, and reveals the wide variation in organizational form and entrepreneurial behavior that historians have found. It concludes by discussing the main contributions of business history to the study of entrepreneurship, and proposes a renewed research agenda.
Andrea Colli and Mary Rose
Business history is naturally multidisciplinary and this article tracks the relationships between history, organizational and network theory, entrepreneurship, and family dynamics that underpin current research on family business. It surveys and assesses the existing historiography and analyses the way understanding of family firms has developed since the 1960s. By surveying the business-history literature alongside management and sociological approaches to family firms, the article highlights the shifting nature of family capitalism and the changes in the economic contribution and management of family firms through time and space. It shows that business historians have a proud tradition of recognizing that families and firms are inseparable. Yet this analysis can be taken further by combining historical and postmodern social-science methodologies to explore the pivotal and changing role of women in different firms, sectors, and societies.
The historical evolution of ideas about the entrepreneur is a wide-ranging subject and one that can be organized in different ways — theorist by theorist, period by period, issue by issue and so forth. What follows is a compromise between these possibilities. This article starts with some very broad reflections about economic change over thousands of years and the connections between these changes and the economic thinking of the time. A recognizably ‘modern’ idea of the entrepreneur begins to emerge in the eighteenth century and part of this article is devoted to the role of entrepreneurship in classical and neoclassical economic theory. In the next five sections, the article looks at particular areas that have been associated with debates about the entrepreneurial role — uncertainty, innovation, economic efficiency, the theory of the firm, and economic development. A final section presents a brief summary and comments on the place of the entrepreneur in evolutionary models.