The Nietzschean Origins of Ambiguities of the Entrepreneur Concept: Schumpeter as a Reader of Nietzsche

Nathanaël Colin-Jaeger and Étienne Wiedemann

Table of Contents


The figure of the entrepreneur is now used in a wide variety of public discourses. This work seeks to trace one of the theoretical sources for the constitution of this figure: Schumpeter’s 1911a, b theory of the entrepreneur. This study shows, by taking into account Schumpeter’s intellectual and theoretical context, that he was led to import a philosophical anthropology in economics, that of Nietzsche, an author widely read in Austria at the beginning of the 20th century. By transposing, within his economic theory, some of the main features of the great Nietzschean creative man into the figure of the entrepreneur, Schumpeter develops an original explanation of the dynamic nature of the market and of economic evolution. Nevertheless, a whole series of ambiguities are also important to Nietzsche, particularly with regard to the origin of the individual exceptionality of the entrepreneur, and more specifically his creative power. A second ambiguity is very widely inherited, which concerns the extension of the individual entrepreneur model: does it constitute a theory of action valid for all individuals or only for a particular type of individual? How can we reconcile the exceptionality of the entrepreneur with the norm of entrepreneurship for all? The last part of this work thus explores these ambiguities, which appear in Schumpeter and his successors, notably Israel Kirzner.


JEL Codes: B13, B25, B31, B40

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