The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times

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Overview

Whether hailed as heroes or cast as threats to social order, entrepreneurs—and their innovations—have had an enormous influence on the growth and prosperity of nations. The Invention of Enterprise gathers together, for the first time, leading economic historians to explore the entrepreneur's role in society from antiquity to the present. Addressing social and institutional influences from a historical context, each chapter examines entrepreneurship during a particular period and in an important geographic location.

The book chronicles the sweeping history of enterprise in Mesopotamia and Neo-Babylon; carries the reader through the Islamic Middle East; offers insights into the entrepreneurial history of China, Japan, and Colonial India; and describes the crucial role of the entrepreneur in innovative activity in Europe and the United States, from the medieval period to today. In considering the critical contributions of entrepreneurship, the authors discuss why entrepreneurial activities are not always productive and may even sabotage prosperity. They examine the institutions and restrictions that have enabled or impeded innovation, and the incentives for the adoption and dissemination of inventions. They also describe the wide variations in global entrepreneurial activity during different historical periods and the similarities in development, as well as entrepreneurship's role in economic growth. The book is filled with past examples and events that provide lessons for promoting and successfully pursuing contemporary entrepreneurship as a means of contributing to the welfare of society.

The Invention of Enterprise lays out a definitive picture for all who seek an understanding of innovation's central place in our world.

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Editorial Reviews

Biz Ed
Entrepreneurship has a long and varied history, and academics explore its evolution in The Invention of Enterprise. Edited by [Landes, Baumol, and Mokyr], the book collects essays from the editors and 18 other economists and historians. They look for commonalities in the societies that prospered—or failed to prosper—from entrepreneurial innovation, and they note that entrepreneurship is directly affected by the prevailing culture and religion.
Journal of Economic Literature
The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known.
— Michaël Bikard and Scott Stern
EH.Net
I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship.
— Mansel G. Blackford
Books & Culture
The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors' approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained.
— Robert Whaples
Journal of Economic Literature - Michael Bikard and Scott Stern
The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known.
EH.Net - Mansel G. Blackford
I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship.
Books & Culture - Robert Whaples
The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors' approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained.
Journal of Economic Literature - Michaël Bikard and Scott Stern

The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2011 Silver Medal Book Award in Entrepreneurship, Axiom Business

"The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known."—Michal Bikard and Scott Stern, Journal of Economic Literature

"I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship."—Mansel G. Blackford, EH.Net

"Entrepreneurship has a long and varied history, and academics explore its evolution in The Invention of Enterprise. Edited by [Landes, Baumol, and Mokyr], the book collects essays from the editors and 18 other economists and historians. They look for commonalities in the societies that prospered—or failed to prosper—from entrepreneurial innovation, and they note that entrepreneurship is directly affected by the prevailing culture and religion."—Biz Ed

"The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained."—Robert Whaples, Books & Culture

Journal of Economic Literature
The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known.
— Michaël Bikard and Scott Stern
EH.Net
I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship.
— Mansel G. Blackford
Biz Ed
Entrepreneurship has a long and varied history, and academics explore its evolution in The Invention of Enterprise. Edited by [Landes, Baumol, and Mokyr], the book collects essays from the editors and 18 other economists and historians. They look for commonalities in the societies that prospered—or failed to prosper—from entrepreneurial innovation, and they note that entrepreneurship is directly affected by the prevailing culture and religion.
Books & Culture
The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors' approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained.
— Robert Whaples
Journal of Economic Literature - Michael Bikard and Scott Stern
The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known.
EH.Net - Mansel G. Blackford
I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship.
Books & Culture - Robert Whaples
The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors' approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained.
Journal of Economic Literature - Michaël Bikard and Scott Stern
The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2011 Silver Medal Book Award in Entrepreneurship, Axiom Business

"The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known."—Michal Bikard and Scott Stern, Journal of Economic Literature

"I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship."—Mansel G. Blackford, EH.Net

"Entrepreneurship has a long and varied history, and academics explore its evolution in The Invention of Enterprise. Edited by [Landes, Baumol, and Mokyr], the book collects essays from the editors and 18 other economists and historians. They look for commonalities in the societies that prospered—or failed to prosper—from entrepreneurial innovation, and they note that entrepreneurship is directly affected by the prevailing culture and religion."Biz Ed

"The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors' approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained."—Robert Whaples, Books & Culture

"A classic, impressive, study for serious students of the subject."Long Range Planning

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Product Details

Meet the Author


David S. Landes is the Coolidge Professor of History and professor emeritus of economics at Harvard University. Joel Mokyr is the Robert Strotz Professor of Arts and Sciences and professor of economics and history at Northwestern University. William J. Baumol is the Harold Price Professor of Entrepreneurship at New York University's Stern School of Business.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Carl J. Schramm vii
Preface: The Entrepreneur in History by William J. Baumol ix

Acknowledgments by William J. Baumol and Robert J. Strom xv

Introduction: Global Enterprise and Industrial Performance: An Overview by David S. Landes 1

Chapter 1: Entrepreneurs: From the Near Eastern Takeoff to the Roman Collapse by Michael Hudson 8

Chapter 2: Neo-Babylonian Entrepreneurs Cornelia Wunsch 40

Chapter 3: The Scale of Entrepreneurship in Middle Eastern History: Inhibitive Roles of Islamic Institutions by Timur Kuran 62

Chapter 4: Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship in Medieval Europe by James M. Murray 88

Chapter 5: Tawney's Century, 1540-1640: The Roots of Modern Capitalist Entrepreneurship by John Munro 107

Chapter 6: The Golden Age of the Dutch Republic Oscar Gelderblom 156

Chapter 7: Entrepreneurship and the Industrial Revolution in Britain by Joel Mokyr 183

Chapter 8: Entrepreneurship in Britain, 1830-1900 by Mark Casson and Andrew Godley 211

Chapter 9: History of Entrepreneurship: Britain, 1900-2000 by Andrew Godley and Mark Casson 243

Chapter 10: History of Entrepreneurship: Germany after 1815 by Ulrich Wengenroth 273

Chapter 11: Entrepreneurship in France by Michel Hau 305

Chapter 12: Entrepreneurship in the Antebellum United States by Louis P. Cain 331

Chapter 13: Entrepreneurship in the United States, 1865-1920 by Naomi R. Lamoreaux 367

Chapter 14: Entrepreneurship in the United States, 1920-2000 by Margaret B. W. Graham 401

Chapter 15: An Examination of the Supply of Financial Credit to Entrepreneurs in Colonial India by Susan Wolcott 443

Chapter 16: Chinese Entrepreneurship since Its Late Imperial Period by Wellington K. K. Chan 469

Chapter 17: Entrepreneurship in Pre-World War II Japan: The Role and Logic of the Zaibatsu by Seiichiro Yonekura and Hiroshi Shimizu 501

Chapter 18: "Useful Knowledge" of Entrepreneurship: Some Implications of the History by William J. Baumol and Robert J. Strom 527

List of Contributors 543

Index 545

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Historical world tour of entrepreneurship

    Money might make the world go around, but the spinning wouldn't happen without entrepreneurs and their innovations. This thorough examination of world entrepreneurship delves into many of the globe's important economies, from the ancient Middle East to modern-day China. Edited by three scholars, David S. Landes, Joel Mokyr and William J. Baumol, this work is a collection of essays by more than 20 academics. While not exactly a page-turner, this study serves up historical context that will help readers understand the cultural currents and political forces that shape entrepreneurship throughout the world. It's intriguing to note, for instance, that most major economies (with the exception of the US) have harbored a deep-seated bias against entrepreneurs. getAbstract recommends this book to business people who love history or to historians who want to know about the development of commercial enterprise.

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