Does Entrepreneuship Stimulate Economic Growth ?

Most people I speak to, seem to think that it is obvious that entrepreneurship is one key to economic growth. This is a very modern view-point in that the entrepreneur was never really considered in neo-classical economic theory.  I don't however believe that the answer to this question is as obvious as most people may think.

Economic growth is measured by a nations Gross domestic Product (GDP) which as the name suggests measures the economic output of the nation. So there must be some production or output for this domestic product to grow, this implies that the workers of the nation are adding value to some resource which previously had a lesser value (if any). This might be digging a huge whole and extracting diamonds, which are then polished and sold, or it might be using intellect and some intellectual property which is then sold around the world. Either way, no matter how you look at it, something has to be created or some value added.

If a nation has a large percentage of entrepreneurs who are not especially productive or successful, there will not be much economic growth. In fact they may be using important human and other resources in a very unproductive manner and ultimately do more harm than good. For one thing, unsuccessful entrepreneurs place a burden on the administration system (processing bankruptcy for example) they also eat up valuable opportunity cost (they could have been doing something productive in the meantime). Furthermore in nations where entrepreneurs are not especially innovative, i.e they simply replicate what already exists, they simply saturate the market with more of the same - which is not sustainable in the long run.

For entrepreneurs to contribute to sustained economic growth, they need to be more successful than not and produce a some kind of "net productivity". The role of good government is thus not only to stimulate entrepreneurs, but also to help them be successful. So some co-ordination and collaboration is essential for this to happen.


  1. Never thought about that. You're right, unsuccessful entrepreneurs actually have a detrimental effect on the economy. And if government supports entrepreneurs and they fail, the resources that government provided are also being wasted. So it's not enough to support, but it's the quality of that support that counts too.

  2. Saul, I have tried to express my ideas previously in ... basically the main point is that (1) it is not that obvious that entrepreneurship leads to economic growth and (2) that government programs often focus on the wrong areas, spending money that does not increase productivity or produce results. History has shown (see North 1999 or Sen for example) that money invested in education is well spent (not throwing money at unsupported entrepreneurial programs)


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