[-nurz, -noorz; Fr. -nœr
entrepreneur [Fr.,=one who undertakes], person who assumes the organization, management, and risks of a business enterprise. It was first used as a technical economic term by the 18th-century economist Richard Cantillon. To the classical economist of the late 18th cent. the term meant an employer in the character of one who assumes the risk and management of business; an undertaker of economic enterprises, in contrast to the ordinary capitalist, who, strictly speaking, merely owns an enterprise and may choose to take no part in its day-to-day operation. In practice, entrepreneurs were not differentiated from regular capitalists until the 19th cent., when their function developed into that of coordinators of processes necessary to large-scale industry and trade. Joseph Schumpeter and other 20th-century economists considered the entrepreneur's competitive drive for innovation and improvement to have been the motive force behind capitalist development. Richard Arkwright in England and William Cockerill on the Continent were prominent examples of the rising class of entrepreneurial manufacturers during the Industrial Revolution. Henry Ford was a 20th-century American example. The entrepreneur's functions and importance have declined with the growth of the corporation.

See J. Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic Development (1934); J. W. Gough, The Rise of the Entrepreneur (1969); O. F. Collins, The Organization Makers (1970).

An entrepreneur is a person who has possession over a company, enterprise, or venture, and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome. The term is a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to the type of personality who is willing to take upon herself or himself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome. In common understanding it is taken as describing a dynamic personality.


The modern myths about entrepreneurs include the idea that they assume the risks involved to undertake a business venture, but that interpretation now appears to be based on a false translation of Cantillon's and Say's ideas. The research data indicate that successful entrepreneurs are actually risk averse. They are successful because their passion for an outcome leads them to organize available resources in new and more valuable ways. In doing so, they are said to efficiently and effectively use the factors of production. Those factors are now deemed to include at least the following elements: land (natural resources), labour (human input into production using available resources), capital (any type of equipment used in production i.e. machinery), intelligence, knowledge, and creativity. A person who can efficiently manage these factors in pursuit of an opportunity to add value, may expand (future prospects of larger firms and businesses), and become successful.

Entrepreneurship is often difficult and tricky, as many new ventures fail. Entrepreneur is often synonymous with founder. Most commonly, the term entrepreneur applies to someone who creates value by offering a product or service. Entrepreneurs often have strong beliefs about a market opportunity and organize their resources effectively to accomplish an outcome that changes existing interactions.

Some observers see them as being willing to accept a high level of personal, professional or financial risk to pursue that opportunity, but the emerging evidence indicates they are more passionate experts than gamblers.

Business entrepreneurs are viewed as fundamentally important in the capitalistic society. Some distinguish business entrepreneurs as either "political entrepreneurs" or "market entrepreneurs," while social entrepreneurs' principal objectives include the creation of a social and/or environmental benefit.

Business entrepreneurs who adhere to Cultural Creative values are defined as innerpreneurs as their principal objectives include personal development and social change.

Definition and terminology

An entrepreneur is someone who attempts to organize resources in new and more valuable ways and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.


The word "entrepreneur" is a loanword from French. In French the verb "entreprendre" means "to undertake", with "entre" coming from the Latin word meaning "between", and "prendre" meaning "to take". In French a person who performs a verb, has the ending of the verb changed to "eur", comparable to the "er" ending in English.

Enterprise is similar to and has roots in, the French word "entrepris", which is the past participle of "entreprendre". Entrepreneuse is simply the French feminine counterpart of "entrepreneur".

According to Miller, it is one who is able to begin, sustain, and when necessary, effectively and efficiently dissolve a business entity.

Entrepreneur as a leader

Scholar Robert. B. Reich considers leadership, management ability, and team-building as essential qualities of an entrepreneur. This concept has its origins in the work of Richard Cantillon in his Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général (1755) and Jean-Baptiste Say (1803) in his Treatise on Political Economy.

A more generally held theory is that entrepreneurs emerge from the population on demand, from the combination of opportunities and people well-positioned to take advantage of them. An entrepreneur may perceive that s/he is among the few to recognize or be able to solve a problem. In this view, one studies on one side the distribution of information available to would-be entrepreneurs (see Austrian School economics) and on the other, how environmental factors (access to capital, competition, etc.) change the rate of a society's production of entrepreneurs.

A prominent theorist of the Austrian School in this regard is Joseph Schumpeter, who saw the entrepreneur as innovators and popularized the uses of the phrase creative destruction to describe his view of role of entrepreneurs in changing business norms.

Foundations Dedicated to Entrepreneurship

To date, the largest foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, based in Kansas City. One of the main entrepreneur associations is the Entrepreneur's Organisation.

In Syria, the Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Association tries to help young people become job owners rather than job seekers. It was founded in 2004.

See also

General: Independent contractor, Social entrepreneurship, Internet Entrepreneur, Consultant, E-Myth Entrepreneurship education: Master of Enterprise, Junior Enterprise, Young Enterprise, Business and Enterprise College, Toronto Business Development CentreAgorism: Entrepreneuriat

References and external articles

General information

  • Baumol, W.J., Litan, R.E., Schramm, C.J. (2007). Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity. Yale University Press.
  • Binks, M. and Vale, P. (1990). Entrepreneurship and Economic Change. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.
  • Brouwer, M.T. (2002). 'Weber, Schumpeter and Knight on entrepreneurship and economic development'. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, vol. 12(1-2), p. 83.
  • Cantillon, R. (1755). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général
  • Casson, M. (2005). 'Entrepreneurship and the theory of the firm'. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 58 (2) , 327-348
  • Hebert, R.F. and Link, A.N. (1988). The Entrepreneur: Mainstream Views and Radical Critiques. New York: Praeger, 2nd edition.
  • Kirzner, I. (1973). Competition and Entrepreneurship.
  • Knight, F.H. (1921/61). Risk uncertainty and profit. Kelley, 2nd edition.
  • Schumpeter, J.A. (1934). The Theory of Economic Development: An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle
  • Spengler, J.J. (1954).
  • Schramm, Carl (2006). The Entrepreneurial Imperative. Harper Collins
  • Bagchi Subroto (2006) The High Performance Entrepreneur . Penguin

Theories of the firm

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