The foundations of the theory of entrepreneurship in Austrian economics— Menger and Böhm-Bawerk on the entrepreneur

Gilles Campagnolo

Table of Contents


The contributions of Austrian marginalist Carl Menger (1840-1921) and his first disciple, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk (1851-1914), to the analysis of business practice and entrepreneurship reached beyond a mere by-product of the building of the so-called “Austrian school of economics” as an alternative paradigm to the well-known “German Historical School.” Menger’s and Böhm-Bawerk’s multifaceted views on business and analysis of entrepreneurship rapidly emerged among their concerns in their writings and deeds within the Imperial Austro-Hungarian (k. und k.) government. Menger’s and Böhm-Bawerk’s works raise the issue of which traits entrepreneurs and capitalists share, how to differentiate them, and what budding new type of economic agent ought to be observed. As we place their seminal works in the context of the late period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, we disentangle their views on the entrepreneur and show how they paved the way for ideas that Schumpeter would later popularize.

JEL classification: B25, D21, L26, O31


  • Austrian School of Economics
  • Böhm-Bawerk (Eugen von)
  • capitalism (the history of High-capitalism Hoch-Kapitalismus)
  • entrepreneurship (and theory thereof)
  • Kirzner (Israel)
  • Menger (Carl)