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


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.

II. Literature Review

Recent growth and interest in the number of endowed positions in private and free enterprise, entrepreneurship, small business, and family business are clear. These positions have been well documented in the literature. Robinson and Hayes (1991) document the establishment of the first endowed position in entrepreneurship in 1963 and note that the second position was not established until 1975, but by 1985 there were approximately 25 such positions. Katz (1991a, 2004) counts approximately 100 positions in 1989, approximately 175 by the mid-1990s, and 237 endowed professorships and chair positions by 1999. Subsequent years reflect a substantial growth spurt in endowed positions: between 1999 and 2003 Katz shows a 71% increase to 406 positions. …

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