The entrepreneur is a factor in and the study of entrepreneurship reaches back to the work of Richard Cantillon and Adam Smith in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. However, entrepreneurship was largely ignored theoretically until the late 19th and early 20th centuries and empirically until a profound resurgence in business and economics since the late 1970s. In the 20th century, the understanding of entrepreneurship owes much to the work of economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s and other Austrian economists such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek. According to Schumpeter, an entrepreneur is a person who is willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation. Entrepreneurship employs what Schumpeter called "the gale of creative destruction" to replace in whole or in part inferior innovations across markets and industries, simultaneously creating new products including new business models. In this way, creative destruction is largely responsible for the dynamism of industries and long-run economic growth. The supposition that entrepreneurship leads to economic growth is an interpretation of the residual in endogenous growth theory and as such is hotly debated in academic economics. An alternative description posited by Israel Kirzner suggests that the majority of innovations may be much more incremental improvements such as the replacement of paper with plastic in the making of drinking straws.


In the 20th century, entrepreneurship was studied by Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s and other Austrian economists such as Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek. While the loan from French of the word "entrepreneur" dates to the 1850, the term "entrepreneurship" was coined around the 1920s. According to Schumpeter, an entrepreneur is willing and able to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation.[29] Entrepreneurship employs what Schumpeter called "the gale of creative destruction" to replace in whole or in part inferior offerings across markets and industries, simultaneously creating new products and new business models, thus creative destruction is largely responsible for long-term economic growth. The idea that entrepreneurship leads to economic growth is an interpretation of the residual in endogenous growth theory[clarification needed] and as such continues to be debated in academic economics. An alternative description by Israel Kirzner suggests that the majority of innovations may be incremental improvements such as the replacement of paper with plastic in the construction of a drinking straw that require no special qualities.
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For Schumpeter, the entrepreneur did not bear risk: the capitalist did. Schumpeter believed that the equilibrium was imperfect. Schumpeter (1934) demonstrated that the changing environment continuously provides new information about the optimum allocation of resources to enhance profitability. Some individuals acquire the new information before others and recombine the resources to gain an entrepreneurial profit. Schumpeter was of the opinion that entrepreneurs shift the production possibility curve to a higher level using innovations.[30]
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The distinction between the novice, serial and portfolio entrepreneurs is an example of behavior-based categorization.[63] Other examples are the (related) studies by,[64][65] on start-up event sequences. Nascent entrepreneurship that emphasizes the series of activities involved in new venture emergence,[66][67][68] rather than the solitary act of exploiting an opportunity. Such research will help separate entrepreneurial action into its basic sub-activities and elucidate the inter- relationships between activities, between an activity (or sequence of activities) and an individual's motivation to form an opportunity belief, and between an activity (or sequence of activities) and the knowledge needed to form an opportunity belief. With this research, scholars will be able to begin constructing a theory of the micro-foundations of entrepreneurial action.


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Innovative entrepreneurs may be more likely to experience what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow". "Flow" occurs when an individual forgets about the outside world due to being thoroughly engaged in a process or activity. Csikszentmihalyi suggested that breakthrough innovations tend to occur at the hands of individuals in that state.[113] Other research has concluded that a strong internal motivation is a vital ingredient for breakthrough innovation.[114] Flow can be compared to Maria Montessori's concept of normalization, a state that includes a child's capacity for joyful and lengthy periods of intense concentration.[115] Csikszentmihalyi acknowledged that Montessori's prepared environment offers children opportunities to achieve flow.[116] Thus quality and type of early education may influence entrepreneurial capability.

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