The Future of Free Enterprise Leadership in Academe: A Survey

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper provides findings from a survey of participants in professional academic organizations supportive of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and classical liberal ideals. We present data on the subset of respondents who do not currently hold, but aspire to hold, a chair or professorship in free enterprise or entrepreneurship.

These scholars reveal their perspectives on a range of issues. Major sections of the survey included institutional information; individual demographics, including research productivity and outlets; perspectives on politics and economics; intellectual influences; and an assessment of connections to major think tanks and networks that support and inform the work of scholars in free enterprise and entrepreneurship.

JEL Codes: A13, A14, P19

Keywords: Free enterprise; Entrepreneurship; Chair; Professorship

I. Introduction

Academic inquiry and scholarship covering free enterprise and entrepreneurship have grown significantly over the past two decades, and a number of new chairs and professorships have been established. Simultaneously, renewed interest is indicated by the growth in free enterprise-oriented academic organizations and support structures. This study specifically investigates the characteristics and academic work of those who aspire to obtain a chair or professorship in free enterprise and entrepreneurship. The intent of this research is to ascertain what steps these individuals are taking in their career paths and what resources they consider to be important to their long-term goals.

These results come from a wider inquiry into the profession designed to also capture academics currently holding existing chairs and professorships. Surveys were sent to approximately 2,400 individuals who were members of major academic associations likely to include scholars of free enterprise and entrepreneur ship. A survey was developed in early 2008 and administered during the summer of the same year. Major sections of the survey included institutional information; individual demographics, including research productivity and outlets; perspectives on politics and economics; intellectual influences; and an assessment of connections to major think tanks and networks that support and inform the work of scholars in free enterprise and entrepreneur ship. Although the number of chairs and professorships has risen over time, college and university communities often exhibit a rather tepid acceptance of scholars in the classical liberal or free enterprise tradition (Alterman, 1994; Basinger, 1998; Beder, 2005; Cardiff and Klein, 2005; Klein and Stern, 2005; Wooster, 1990). The intent of this survey was to target a relatively small minority of primarily business, philosophy, and economics scholars with a demonstrated research interest in the exploration of free and private capitalist enterprise.

II. Literature Review

Scholars in the areas of free enterprise, entrepreneurship, and small or family business fields have the opportunity to apply for an increasing number of endowed chairs and professorships. The first endowed position in entrepreneurship was established in 1963 (Robinson and Hayes, 1991). Only 40 years later, there were just more than 400 such documented positions (Katz, 2004). Recent establishment activity in these positions includes more than 60 new chairs, professorships, and centers established by BB&T Bank. The BB&T positions allow faculty to develop and teach a course on the relationship between morality and capitalism that incorporates Atlas Shruggedby Ayn Rand. In short, scholars in these areas have a number of opportunities to obtain endowed positions relating directly to their interests in free enterprise, the contributions of capitalism to society, and entrepreneurship.

An ongoing concern with these types of positions is having wellqualified faculty members with these interests to fill them. Without a steady stream of classical liberal scholars, some positions could be unfilled or filled with faculty who do not have a deep understanding of, or respect for, the benefits of capitalism. …