Entrepreneurship and Action

27 December 2009 at 11:45 am 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

A few entrepreneurship scholars see action under uncertainty, rather than perception of opportunity, as the essence of the entrepreneurial function. Really, really eminent scholars. Anyway, here’s a little etymological tidbit along these lines from Jesús Huerta de Soto’s book The Austrian School: Market Order and Entrepreneurial Creativity:

Indeed both the Spanish word empresa and the French and English word entrepreneur derive etymologically from the Latin verb in prehendo-endi-ensum, which means “to discover, to see, to perceive, to realize, to capture”; and the Latin term in prehensa clearly implies action and means “to take, to seize.” In short, empresa is synonymous with action. In France, the word entrepreneur has long conveyed this idea — since the High Middle Ages, in fact when it was designated to those in charge of performing important and generally war related deeds or to those entrusted with executing the large cathedral building projects.

Thanks to Dan D’Amico for calling my attention to this passage.

PS: On the more general claim that entrepreneurship should be treated as an abstract function, rather than an employment category, I call to the stand Edith Penrose, who writes in Theory of the Growth of the Firm (chapter 3, footnote 1):

The term “entrepreneur” throughout this study is used in a functional sense to refer to individuals or groups within the firm providing entrepreneurial services, whatever their position or occupational classification may be.

You go, girl!

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Entrepreneurship, Theory of the Firm. Tags: .

We Feel Your Pain Happy Birthday, Ronald!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pietro Poggi-Corradini  |  27 December 2009 at 6:49 pm

    In Italian “impresa” has two meanings: “firm” or “exploit”.

  • 2. srp  |  28 December 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I still wish we could bring back the old Dafoe-era term “projector.”

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  28 December 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I like “undertaker”!

  • 4. srp  |  29 December 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Entrants undertake to overtake the incumbents.

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Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
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Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
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