CFP – Annual Conference of
ARBEITSKREIS KRITISCHE UNTERNEHMENS- UND INDUSTRIEGESCHICHTE
(WORKING GROUP FOR CRITICAL BUSINESS AND INDUSTRIAL HISTORY)
in Berlin 8.-9. November 2012
BUSINESS HISTORY MEETS ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Entrepreneurship is a multifaceted and iridescent term which in the last years has been widely discussed and operationalized by politics, economics and other sciences. Within the EU, the Lisbon Process has led to the development and implementation of a great variety of programs subsidized by billions of Euro (EXIST, PHARE) which aim at encouraging the formation of enterprises and economic growth, as well as enforcing entrepreneurial spirit on all levels of professional and academic education or advanced training. Following the American model, this process has also led to the establishment of chairs in entrepreneurship at many German universities, and of technology centers and enterprise zones. This in turn has stimulated considerable academic research and handbooks for practical purposes.
The new business discipline shows a special combination of academic research and entrepreneurial experience as well as a multidisciplinary orientation. Its theoretical foundations rest on the concept of the innovative entrepreneur by Joseph Schumpeter, on Frank Knight, the behavioral approaches to entrepreneurial spirit by R. M. Cyert, J. G. March and David McClelland, and the New Institutional Economics. A fundamental assumption is that the formation of new businesses as well as basic entrepreneurial qualifications can be learned and induced by academic training. This idea is related to an image of entrepreneurs who are seen as ideal representatives of technical and economic progress and so as models of the “entrepreneurial self” (Ulrich Bröckling).
Recently, these assertions have been contested and offer a good starting point for further discussions. Modern business history has begun to examine the functional and discursive role of entrepreneurship by overcoming hagiographic concepts and relating these insights to theoretical foundations. In contrast to entrepreneurship research, the aim was to historicise the findings, to explore how entrepreneurship changed over time, who exercised it and how it was carried out. Occasionally, business history has replaced the central position of the entrepreneur by examining strategic decisions or corporate governance what allowed to determine more clearly the role and function of the entrepreneur as well as to question it. The technological history of innovations too has produced useful results which could enforce exchanges with business history. In addition, the investigations in semantics, discourses and visual representation have emphasized the importance of self-perceptions and perceptions from outsiders of entrepreneurs.
These are the points we want to address and discuss critically, especially in which ways business and economic history could benefit from the new economic discipline – and vice versa. Propositions for papers may deal with the different areas of business and economic history mentioned as well as with entrepreneurship research.
The conference language will be german, but contributions in english are welcome.
In particular, we invite proposals for the following topics and questions:
1. The economic function of entrepreneurs and its theoreticizing
o The approaches of the Historical and the Austrian School in Economics (Werner Sombart, Max Weber, Ludwig von Mises etc.) – obsolete or useful for modern entrepreneurship research?
o Schumpeter revisited: the “young” and the “late” Schumpeter in contemporary view
o The role of social and cultural sciences – behavioristic approaches, social psychology and entrepreneurial spirit
o Entrepreneurship in the Institutional Economics
o Evolutionary Economics: historicizing and contextualization of entrepreneurship?
o The role of knowledge and technology – the impact of innovation research
2. Self-perceptions of entrepreneurs and perceptions from outsiders
o Self-perceptions and perceptions from outsiders – social functions of entrepreneurs in linguistic and visual discourses
o “Entrepreneurial spirit” – a resource for social distinction and social legitimization of private entrepreneurship? Autobiographies and biographies of entrepreneurs
o Innovative and creative entrepreneurs? Self-stylization of technical and creative knowledge for successful entrepreneurship and stylization by others
o Female entrepreneurs: only proxies or heiresses? The scientific and social image of female entrepreneurs
o Is entrepreneurship culturally bounded? Images of entrepreneurs in different cultures
3. Business history as “best practice cases” – entrepreneurial practices
o Capital, workforce, resources, entrepreneurial spirit or luck? Which factors count for successful formations? Case studies on entrepreneurs and reasons for goals, motives and (successful) activities
o What is the meaning of entrepreneurship inside the world of enterprises? (corporate entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship)
o What is the role of content and context of enterprise formations (economic vs. social entrepreneurship, joint ventures and out-sourcing, phases of crisis and boom, different sectors, subsidizing)
o “Small is beautiful” – Small and medium enterprises as incubators for innovations
o From employees to entrepreneurs? New concepts of intrapreneurship and social implications of the entrepreneurial self
o Historical case studies as best practice cases – can entrepreneurship research learn from business history?
4. Is entrepreneurship teachable and learnable?
o How to learn to be an entrepreneur? Syllabusses of entrepreneurship study programs in relation to practical entrepreneurship
o The role of universities and schools for enterprise formation
o How can entrepreneurial practice be combined with economic theory?
o The establishment of the entrepreneurial discipline in the area of publishing: scientific research compared to textbook knowledge (readers, handbook, textbooks)
o Knowledge as factor of production: the role of the stock of knowledge and its protection for formations activities (patents, property rights).
We ask for short propositions (one page) for papers until the 15th of February 2012 to: Prof. Dr. Dorothea Schmidt (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Stefanie van de Kerkhof (email@example.com)
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