Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Entrepreneurship and Regional Economic Development: The Actions of the Industrial Entrepreneurs of Caxias Do Sul, Brazil (1950-1970)

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Entrepreneurship and Regional Economic Development: The Actions of the Industrial Entrepreneurs of Caxias Do Sul, Brazil (1950-1970)

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs are two of the most popular topics of our time, showing interest to both the academic and the business worlds (Watson, 2012). On this issue, Thornton, Soriano and Urbano (2011) argue that there is also a common perception that entrepreneurship is associated to a heroic individual or an economically successful company. However, according to the authors, this conception can be considered as a fundamental error "based on the increasing evidence showing that individuals and entrepreneurs are socially rooted in located network structures of a specific cultural context" (Thornton, Soriano and Urbano, 2011). According to Watson (2012), and due to the fact that successful businesses are the consequence of both extraordinary individuals and the variety of interests associated to entrepreneurship, "there is an almost inevitable meaning ambiguity, which raises the concern of researchers about the possibility of a serious analysis of this phenomenon, wherever it may exist" (Watson, 2012).

In an attempt to advance the quality of the empirical and theoretical work of entrepreneurship, Shane and Venkataraman (2000) draw up an integrated framework that helps researchers to recognize the relationship between multiplicities of factors necessary for the understanding of the concept of entrepreneurship. The authors argue that the concept of entrepreneurship offers questions from different areas of academic research, but most researchers are mainly occupied with the "why of things", instead of the "how of things". The authors wanted to know how "[the opportunities for the creation of goods and services happen][or how some people and not others do discover and exploit those opportunities and use different modes of action to explore entrepreneurial opportunities]" (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000).

For Béchard (1997), the field of entrepreneurship is characterized by both the paradigms of the entrepreneurial economy and the entrepreneurial society. The author suggests that underlying the paradigm of the entrepreneurial economy, "on one hand, demonstrates the economic forces that regulate the demand for goods; and on the other hand, it enhances the forces that determine the psychological traits of the entrepreneur and the organizational forces that adapt quickly to market pressures" (Béchard, 1997). Consequently, the Entrepreneur Society is defined as both the economic forces that expand the supply of goods and the psychological forces that encourage innovative behaviour and services, which allow people to realize the opportunities for change in a society and generate social action and creative forces to create new organisations (Casson, 2013; Béchard, 1997).

Gartner (1988) believes that the search for the answer to the question "who is an entrepreneur?" which only focuses on the personality traits, will not lead to a definition of the entrepreneur, neither will help us to understand the phenomenon of entrepreneurship (Andersson, et al., 2012). The entrepreneur's personality traits are, for Gartner (1988), extensions of the entrepreneur behaviour and thus, the "research on entrepreneurship should focus on what the entrepreneur does, not on who he is" (Gartner, 1988). The author proposes a reorientation towards a behavioural approach to entrepreneurship, starting to ask how the organisations come into existence.

Therefore, considering that the field of entrepreneurship is characterized by the paradigms of the entrepreneurial economy and the entrepreneurial society and taking into account the sense of Gartner (1988) and Frese (2009) that research on entrepreneurship should focus on the actions of the individuals, this study aims to examine the actions of the industrial entrepreneurs of the region of Caxias do Sul that contributed to the economic and social development of the northeast region of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) between 1950 and 1970.

The metropolitan region of Caxias do Sul has an estimated population of 475. …

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