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UNU-WIDER Entrepreneurial Ventures and the Developmental State: Lessons from the Advanced Economies

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A teenager wears torn rubber boots in a muddy local market in Bac Ha, Viet Nam. As of 2005 figures, half the world population—more than 3 billion people–is estimated to live on less than USD 2.50 a day. Bac Ha, Viet Nam. UN Photo/Kibae Park.

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Entrepreneurial Ventures and the Developmental State: Lessons from the Advanced Economies

A basic intellectual challenge for those concerned with the poverty of nations is to come to grips with the nature and causes of the wealth of the world’s wealthier nations. One might then be in a position to inform the poorer nations how they might achieve similar outcomes. This paper is organized around what I call ‘the theory of innovative enterprise’, a perspective derived from the historical and comparative study of the development of the advanced economies. The theory of innovative enterprise provides the essential analytical link between entrepreneurship and development. Section 2 offers, as a point of departure, a contrast between entrepreneurship in rich and poor nations. Section 3 outlines the theory of the innovating firm in which entrepreneurship has a role to play. Section 4 identifies the roles of entrepreneurship in new firm formation in terms of the types of strategy, organization, and finance that innovation requires, and emphasizes the ‘disappearance’ of entrepreneurship with the growth of the firm. In Section 5 I argue that, in the advanced economies, successful entrepreneurship in knowledge intensive industries has depended heavily upon a combination of business allocation of resources to innovative investment strategies, and government investment in the knowledge base, state sponsored protection of markets and intellectual property rights, and state subsidies to support these business strategies. One cannot understand national economic development without understanding the role of the developmental state. At the same time, the specific agenda and ultimate success of the developmental state cannot be understood in abstraction from the dynamics of innovative enterprise. It is through the interaction of the innovative enterprise and the developmental state that entrepreneurial activity inserts itself into the economic system to contribute to the process of economic development.
WIDER Discussion Paper
Entrepreneurial Ventures and the Developmental State: Lessons from the Advanced Economies
William Lazonick
Publication date:
January 2008
ISBN 13 Print:
ISBN 13 Web:
Copyright holder:
Copyright year:
entrepreneurship, innovative enterprise, developmental state
L2, O1, O3, P1
Promoting Entrepreneurial Capacity
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the financial contribution to the project by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
online and printed copies

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