The Current Status of Free Enterprise Chairs and Professorships in Academe

By Clark, J. R.; Harrison, Ashley S. et al. | Journal of Private Enterprise, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

The Current Status of Free Enterprise Chairs and Professorships in Academe


Clark, J. R., Harrison, Ashley S., Hobbs, Bradley K., Journal of Private Enterprise


Abstract

This paper discusses the findings from a survey of participants in professional academic conferences supporting classical liberal ideals. We present data on those holding either a chair or professorship in free enterprise or entrepreneurship. Information pertaining to both the position and the individual holders is provided. Respondents reveal perspectives on a range of issues including: major scholars of classical liberalism; sources of academic and intellectual support and influence; respondent's political and economic perspectives; and the professional societies, think tanks, grant agencies and other academic support groups they deem important in the advancement of classical liberal scholarship.

JEL Codes: A13, A14, P19

Keywords: Free enterprise; Entrepreneurship; Chair; Professorship; Classical liberalism

I. Introduction

The current status of chairs and professorships in free enterprise and entrepreneurship is the focus of this work. Many individuals and organizations are interested in the creation of value and wealth through free markets and entrepreneurial action. Over the past two decades, the number of chairs and professorships has increased. There has also been a renewed interest in free enterprise and what free enterprise means to those holding these positions, those aspiring to these positions, and people outside of academe. Information could be gathered with a particular focus on either the positions themselves: what we might call the infrastructure of free enterprise within academe; or the characteristics of the individuals holding these positions: the human capital resources supportive of scholarship and advocacy for free enterprise within academe. This research does both by presenting an initial survey of the existing free enterprise infrastructure within academe, information regarding the characteristics of both the positions themselves and the individuals holding these positions, and an initial assessment of the primary intellectual resources that are important to the work and development of scholars interested in free enterprise and entrepreneurship .

A survey was developed and then administered in the summer of 2008 that queried holders of these positions. Topics of inquiry included institutional demographics, structural characteristics of the chair or professorship itself, the history of the position, and an assessment of the demographics, scholarship, political perspectives, support mechanisms, and intellectual influences of those holding the chair or professorship. We were particularly interested in assessing attitudes toward free market and classical liberal ideas and identifying sources of support, sustenance, and intellectual development. These are important because free enterprise and entrepreneurship chairs and professorships may be somewhat isolated on their own campuses given the political perspectives of the academy in general. Academe is not a particularly inviting environment for free enterprise or classical liberal-oriented scholars (Alterman, 1994; Basinger, 1998; Beder, 2005; Cardiff and Klein, 2005; Klein and Stern, 2005; Wooster, 1990). Procuring, developing, and nurturing external resources such as national and international networking opportunities, academic meetings and conferences, free market or classical liberal-based organizations and think tanks, intellectual resources, and funding sources represent an important component of academic opportunity and growth. In short, given the autarkic nature of many of these scholars' positions, external networking and support are crucial.

This survey provides a benchmark for the current status of chairs and professorships in free enterprise and entrepreneurship and attempts to gauge their support for classical liberalism. It collects information on institutional demographics; the characteristics of the chair or professorship itself; a brief history of the position including previous holders and their fields; individual demographics and perspectives on classical liberal ideas; and intellectual influences including institutions, writers, and colleagues. …

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