Chapter | Organizations in Time | 2014

Schumpeter's Plea: Historical Reasoning in Entrepreneurial Theory and Research

by G. Jones and R. Daniel Wadhwani


This chapter draws on theories of entrepreneurship and history to explore the ways in which historical processes play an integral role in entrepreneurship. It builds off the plea by Joseph Schumpeter for an active exchange between historical approaches and theories of entrepreneurship and its role in the process of historical change. Sadly, the field of entrepreneurship as it has evolved in recent decades has become narrow, and is often confined to little more than econometric testing of large datasets concerning high tech entrepreneurs in the United States. This chapter makes the case for the study of entrepreneurship to become again bold and transformational through re-engagement with history. Historical theories of time, context and change are applied to entrepreneurship theory to demonstrate how they illuminate aspects of the entrepreneurial process that traditonal social science reasoning about behavior and cognition miss. The chapter seeks to establish a theoretical foundation for a turn towards historicism in entrepreneurial studies which is already partly underway. The authors stress that the path will not be easy, but that the prize will be a richer and deeper understanding of entrepreneurship and how it shapes and reshapes the modern world.

Keywords: entrepreneurs; business history; organizations; Entrepreneurship; History; Organizations;


Jones, G., and R. Daniel Wadhwani. "Schumpeter's Plea: Historical Reasoning in Entrepreneurial Theory and Research." Chap. 8 in Organizations in Time: History, Theory, Methods, edited by Marcelo Bucheli and R. Daniel Wadhwani, 192–216. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.