The Meaning of Entrepreneurship: A Modular Concept

  • Michael Peneder


Entrepreneurship has been characterised as one of the most intriguing but equally elusive concepts in economics. This critical review first surveys its major intellectual roots and then proposes a modular concept of entrepreneurship that preserves essential distinctions along its behavioural, functional, and occupational dimensions. It argues that the behavioural definition identifies the only attribute that is both comprehensive and unique to the nature of entrepreneurship, while the functional and occupational definitions add the specificity required for many analytical purposes. To validate the concept, the paper discusses the appropriate empirical units of observation and maps a general policy framework.


entrepreneurship market co-ordination innovation technology diffusion occupational choice 


M13 B15 B25. 



This work has benefitted from a number of critical and very constructive comments. In particular, I want to thank Robert Burgelman, Werner Hölzl, Anastassios Karayiannis, and Edward Lazear for sharing their knowledge, posing probing questions or otherwise helping to clarify some of the more intricate aspects of entrepreneurship.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO)ViennaAustria

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