ABSTRACT

Over the last few decades, diff erent scientifi c disciplines have established a remarkable number of accounts to elucidate the terms of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurialism (e.g., Blum and Leibbrand 2001; Heelas and Morris 1992: 16; Henrekson and Roine 2007; Smyth 2004: 440). Despite this prolifi c record, Jones and Spicer (2009) have noticed, among others, that entrepreneurship literature has tried somewhat in vain to determine what entrepreneur might be exactly. Even Casson, who elaborated one of the few cohesive economic theories on entrepreneurship (Casson 1982), has noted in a review of entrepreneurship literature that this “literature is extremely diff use” (Casson 1990: XIII; cf. Henrekson and Roine 2007: 65). Similar observations of the conceptual ambiguity of the entrepreneur have been made by Blum and Leibbrand (2001), Henrekson (2005), Mahieu (2006), Greene et al. (2008), Lavoie and Chamlee-Wright (2000) and Pongratz (2008). Due to the obfuscating language encountered when trying to defi ne entrepreneurship, it does not appear possible to pinpoint the essence of the literature. Neither does a historical review of the literature on entrepreneur and entrepreneurship embracing prominent social and economic scientists like Richard Cantillon, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, Frank Knight, or Mark Casson seem helpful due to broad conceptual and theoretical discrepancies. Indeed, the most interesting dimension of entrepreneurship literature does not reside in substantial theories, but in the recent proliferation of the scientifi c interest in how entrepreneurship is performed and how it supports achievement of political goals.1 Blum and Leibbrand (2001: 16) notice that the semantic element of “entrepreneur” marks a point of exceptional interest to social researchers active within diff erent disciplinary contexts, whether they be sociology, psychology, business administration, political science, or economics. The variety of perspectives, theories, and frames involved is observable through the variety of defi nitions of the entrepreneur. Against the backdrop of the prolifi c and obviously heterogeneous literature on entrepreneurs, the initial section of this chapter will not try to defi ne exactly what an entrepreneur is, but instead make use of recent accounts to point out the meaningfulness of a social constructionist and culturalist analysis of how entrepreneurs are defi ned across diff erent times and spaces.