2015, July, 06

The visionary Joseph Schumpeter

In September 2009, the Economist Magazine launched its Schumpeter column on innovation, a regular feature of the magazine since.  The column is in recognition of the visionary Austrian economist, Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950), who correctly predicted the major forces driving the business world today, such as entrepreneurism and continuous innovation.

In announcing the launch and naming of the column, the Economist said Schumpeter “argued that innovation is at the heart of economic progress. It gives new businesses a chance to replace old ones, but it also dooms those new businesses to fail unless they can keep on innovating (or find a powerful government patron). In his most famous phrase he likened capitalism to a ‘perennial gale of creative destruction’.


For Schumpeter the people who kept this gale blowing were entrepreneurs. He was responsible for popularising the word itself, and for identifying the entrepreneur’s central function: of moving resources, however painfully, to areas where they can be used more productively. But he also recognised that big businesses can be as innovative as small ones, and that entrepreneurs can arise from middle management as well as college dorm-rooms.”

And here is one more, short summary of the profound relevance of Schumpeter’s ideas, as well as their strong connection to the themes of Slingshot:

“Schumpeter famously lauded the entrepreneur, who he argued was the heroic figure of capitalism, a visionary who could imagine the future in ways that others couldn’t and could therefore drive technological change and economic growth. Not just a visionary, the entrepreneur got things done. This ideal, as much as the theory of creative destruction, has made Schumpeter a hero to those who attribute the bulk of our prosperity to market forces. But Sagoff reminds us that Schumpeter’s elevation of the entrepreneur profoundly challenges standard economic accounts of markets and prices. The entrepreneur, Schumpeter argued, is not a rational, utility-maximizing actor responding to price signals to truck and barter his goods most efficiently, as economics textbooks suggest. Rather, he is a dreamer, a visionary, an artist, and a doer. It is precisely the entrepreneur’s disdain for petty price competition, small-minded corner-cutting, and the battle for market share that allows him or her to imagine and create the future.”



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