The entrepreneur as a cultural hero
In this article, Hamilton explores the concept of the entrepreneur. He notes that the entrepreneur in economic analysis is the author of innovation, invention, and development in the folklore of capitalism. While noting that Joseph Schumpeter ascribed the qualities of foresight, initiative, and enterprise to these innovative individuals, Hamilton believes that this persona is appropriated by run-of-themill corporate managers. Using Lord Raglan’s (The Hero, 1956) analysis of the hero’s role in an origin myth, Hamilton describes the entrepreneur as a dramatic persona in the mythology of modern industrial production which serves to justify the system of mores and status system of capitalist society. Hamilton notes that few of the corporate managers of today have the technical ability to understand normal industrial processes, much less the ability to innovate or invent. Instead, the actual role of the modern-day entrepreneur is to engage in the rite of the market transaction where property rights are simultaneously destroyed and recreated as goods and services move from one individual to another as the socially appropriate monetary compensation changes hands. By controlling the rites of market transactions, the creation and extinguishing of property rights, corporate managers at best serve a permissive role in any processes of innovation or invention. But they have a determinate role in the rites that distribute income, assign status, and define rights and privileges in our society. It is the widespread acceptance of this creation myth in modern industrial culture that allows pecuniary linkages to be understood as the primary element of social cohesion rather than the underlying technological linkages. Additionally, this myth provides us with a cultural hero in the person of the entrepreneur and others who appropriate this title. This article, combined with “Keynes, Cooperation, and Economic Stability,” “A Theory of the Social Origins of the Factors of Production,” and “Ceremonial
Aspects of Corporate Organization,” provides a thorough critique of the neoclassical theory of production and the neoclassical theory of the firm.