entrepreneur (än´trəprənûr´) [Fr.,=one who undertakes], person who assumes the organization, management, and risks of a business enterprise. It was first used as a technical economic term by the 18th-century economist Richard Cantillon. To the classical economist of the late 18th cent. the term meant an employer in the character of one who assumes the risk and management of business; an undertaker of economic enterprises, in contrast to the ordinary capitalist, who, strictly speaking, merely owns an enterprise and may choose to take no part in its day-to-day operation. In practice, entrepreneurs were not differentiated from regular capitalists until the 19th cent., when their function developed into that of coordinators of processes necessary to large-scale industry and trade. Joseph Schumpeter and other 20th-century economists considered the entrepreneur's competitive drive for innovation and improvement to have been the motive force behind capitalist development. Richard Arkwright in England and William Cockerill on the Continent were prominent examples of the rising class of entrepreneurial manufacturers during the Industrial Revolution. Henry Ford was a 20th-century American example. The entrepreneur's functions and importance have declined with the growth of the corporation.

See J. Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic Development (1934); J. W. Gough, The Rise of the Entrepreneur (1969); O. F. Collins, The Organization Makers (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Entrepreneurship: Selected full-text books and articles

The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times
David S. Landes; Joel Mokyr; William J. Baumol.
Princeton University Press, 2010
The Coming Prosperity: How Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Economy
Philip Auerswald.
Oxford University Press, 2012
Foundations of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
David A. Harper.
Routledge, 2003
Entrepreneurial Finance: Strategy, Valuation, and Deal Structure
Janet Kiholm Smith; Richard L. Smith; Richard T. Bliss.
Stanford Economics and Finance, 2011
Growing an Entrepreneurial Business: Concepts and Cases
Edward D. Hess.
Stanford Business Books, 2011
Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses
Edward D. Hess.
Stanford Business Books, 2012
Corporate Entrepreneurship: Top Managers and New Business Creation
Vijay Sathe.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know
David Bornstein; Susan Davis.
Oxford University Press, 2010
Social Entrepreneurship: New Models of Sustainable Social Change
Alex Nicholls.
Oxford University Press, 2006
The Microtheory of Innovative Entrepreneurship
William J. Baumol.
Princeton University Press, 2010
Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed and What to Do about It
Josh Lerner.
Princeton University Press, 2009
Collaborative Entrepreneurship: How Communities of Networked Firms Use Continuous Innovation to Create Economic Wealth
Raymond E. Miles; Grant Miles; Charles C. Snow.
Stanford University Press, 2005
The Entrepreneurial Society
David B. Audretsch.
Oxford University Press, 2007
The Entrepreneurial Group: Social Identities, Relations, and Collective Action
Martin Ruef.
Princeton University Press, 2010
American Entrepreneur: The Fascinating Stories of the People Who Defined Business in the United States
Larry Schweikart; Lynne Pierson Doti.
American Management Association, 2010
Engines of Innovation: The Entrepreneurial University in the Twenty-First Century
Holden Thorp; Buck Goldstein.
University of North Carolina Press, 2010
Immigrant and Minority Entrepreneurship: The Continuous Rebirth of American Communities
John Sibley Butler; George Kozmetsky.
Praeger, 2004
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