Working Paper BETA #2021-41

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Title : Entrepreneurs “from within”? Schumpeter and the challenge of endogenizing novelty

Author(s) : Remy Guichardaz, Julien Pénin

Abstract : The development of a dynamic model of endogenous economic change was a major challenge for Schumpeter throughout his academic career. With regard to this life-long objective, this work provides an explanation of why it was impossible for Schumpeter to offer a convincing endogenous theory of the emergence of novelty. We show that Schumpeter’s view of the apparition of pure novelty is centered around an individual and elitist dimension of entrepreneurship and an energetic and vitalist axiom of social change, which is by nature hardly compatible with endogenous evolution. Furthermore, our revisiting of the last writings of Schumpeter shows that, when it comes to the issue of the emergence of pure novelty, the impossibility persisted until his death. Contrary to the claim of some commentators, even the old Schumpeter remained stuck into an individualistic, elitist and energetic view of the generation of pure novelty.

Key-words : Schumpeter; entrepreneur; economic evolution; endogenous change; innovation

JEL Classification : B15; O3