Evolution of Entrepreneur

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Charles Darwin popularized the theory of evolution: that we are all related and gradually changed or evolved overtime. I won’t be talking about that kind of evolution instead I will be discussing the evolution of the word entrepreneur by giving the definition of entrepreneur from 4 different thinkers across different centuries, then I will integrate the features that define the entrepreneur so we have a better picture of an entrepreneur.

The simplest definition of entrepreneur we know today is someone who starts a business and bears the risk. To trace the early definition of entrepreneur, the story begins during enlightenment; a time when the main philosophy is reason and no longer faith, a time when science and liberalism gained traction and a time when economies are starting to open that resulted to more prosperity of mankind.

The word entrepreneur comes from the French word entreprende, which means, to undertake. The word was first used in 18th century France to describe someone who promotes a theater show.

Richard Cantillon, an Irishman living in France first used the word “Entrepreneur” in his book Essay on the Nature of Commerce published in 1755. The word entrepreneur was applied to anyone who buys a product and sells it at a higher price, in short, someone in trading business or a businessman. An example would be an apple trader who buys several apples for 5 pesos each and sells each piece for 8 pesos.

Now in 1803, Jean-Baptiste Say, in his Treatise on Political Economy defined the entrepreneur as someone who “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower productivity and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.” This means that the entrepreneur increases the value of a resource. Going back to the apple example, now the apple is no longer being sold an apple fruit but now sold as an apple juice in bottles.

Then in 1911, Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian American political scientist and economist, gave us a more modern definition of entrepreneur. You can find it on on his book Theory of Economic Development, “the person who destroys the existing economic order by introducing new products and services, by creating new forms of organization, or by exploiting new raw materials.” Now, the apple is no longer sold as apples or apple juice. The apple entrepreneur has created an organization to put up juice stations around the country to sell fresh apple juice.

Peter Drucker, the modern management guru defines entrepreneur as someone who always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. The apple entrepreneur would find the opportunistic idea through research, and knowing through research, how healthy lifestyle has been an increasing importance in the modern age, the apple entrepreneur then would search or farm for organic apples and sell to the market.

Now, here are a few observations and at the same time an integration about the entrepreneur based on the definitions from the 4 thinkers. First, the entrepreneur is a businessman, in the sense that he or she is involved in trading and to do this, there has to be a vehicle, the enterprise. Second, the entrepreneur increases the value of a resource and this is done through innovation and finally, the entrepreneur is in constant search of opportunistic ideas. So, the entrepreneur therefore ideates, innovates and initiates businesses.

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