On the Term ‘Entrepreneur’ and the Conceptualization of Entrepreneurship in the Literature of Classical Economics – Por Petur O. Jonsson


Some of the literature on entrepreneurship suggests that the term entrepreneur was first introduced by either Cantillon or Say during the industrial revolution in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This article, by contrast, shows the term and the concept to be far older. Moreover, before the introduction of the term entrepreneur into English, the literature had a variety of other, and in some respect more nuanced, terms for entrepreneurs. Moreover, the article suggests that present-day scholars tend to misread both the pre-classical and the classical economists on the role of entrepreneurial initiative and creativity in the economy and that this has affected the conceptualization of the term in the current literature. In particular, Say’s classical presentation of the entrepreneurial process was, in essence, dialectical and thus his ideas on entrepreneurship cannot be presented properly in the context of the modern-day equilibrium based models of today’s economics.

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