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The Invention of Enterprise: Entrepreneurship from Ancient Mesopotamia to Modern Times (Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship) [Hardcover]

David S. Landes , Joel Mokyr , William J. Baumol
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 31, 2010 0691143706 978-0691143705 0

Whether hailed as heroes or cast as threats to social order, entrepreneurs--and their innovations--have had an enormous influence on the growth and prosperity of nations. The Invention of Enterprise gathers together, for the first time, leading economic historians to explore the entrepreneur's role in society from antiquity to the present. Addressing social and institutional influences from a historical context, each chapter examines entrepreneurship during a particular period and in an important geographic location.

The book chronicles the sweeping history of enterprise in Mesopotamia and Neo-Babylon; carries the reader through the Islamic Middle East; offers insights into the entrepreneurial history of China, Japan, and Colonial India; and describes the crucial role of the entrepreneur in innovative activity in Europe and the United States, from the medieval period to today. In considering the critical contributions of entrepreneurship, the authors discuss why entrepreneurial activities are not always productive and may even sabotage prosperity. They examine the institutions and restrictions that have enabled or impeded innovation, and the incentives for the adoption and dissemination of inventions. They also describe the wide variations in global entrepreneurial activity during different historical periods and the similarities in development, as well as entrepreneurship's role in economic growth. The book is filled with past examples and events that provide lessons for promoting and successfully pursuing contemporary entrepreneurship as a means of contributing to the welfare of society.

The Invention of Enterprise lays out a definitive picture for all who seek an understanding of innovation's central place in our world.

Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2011 Silver Medal Book Award in Entrepreneurship, Axiom Business

"The Invention of Enterprise offers a timely contribution to our emerging understanding of entrepreneurship in an historical context and is particularly worthwhile for readers who are interested in certain rich historical episodes that are nevertheless little known."--Michaël Bikard and Scott Stern, Journal of Economic Literature

"I think these essays deserve close consideration, as much for the questions they raise as for the answers they give about innovation and entrepreneurship."--Mansel G. Blackford, EH.Net

"Entrepreneurship has a long and varied history, and academics explore its evolution in The Invention of Enterprise. Edited by [Landes, Baumol, and Mokyr], the book collects essays from the editors and 18 other economists and historians. They look for commonalities in the societies that prospered--or failed to prosper--from entrepreneurial innovation, and they note that entrepreneurship is directly affected by the prevailing culture and religion."--Biz Ed

"The Invention of Enterprise is a bold, exploratory attempt to answer our most important questions about how entrepreneurship has evolved and what makes it flourish. The volume brings together a stellar cast of economic historians. The important questions and the available evidence for the periods and places analyzed vary tremendously, so authors' approaches must too. Their scope is almost beautifully and absurdly vast, their insights are numerous, and their conclusions are restrained."--Robert Whaples, Books & Culture

From the Inside Flap

"While entrepreneurship is as old as civilization itself, its history is little known and widely scattered. This book sheds a fascinating light on the prevalence and importance of entrepreneurship across the continents and the millennia. The Invention of Enterprise is sure to lead to a deeper appreciation of this phenomenon."--Josh Lerner, Harvard Business School

"The modern world became wealthy by shifting toward productive entrepreneurship. How did this happen? How might it continue to happen? Read this book--the first comprehensive history of entrepreneurship--and find out. It's a remarkable work of scholarship."--Richard Sylla, New York University

"There are other books on the history of entrepreneurship, but The Invention of Enterprise offers a substantial and fresh approach. These top-notch economic historians cover a vast geographic span and broad period of time."--William J. Hausman, College of William and Mary

"The Invention of Enterprise addresses a topic that has been sorely neglected--the role of the entrepreneur in historical context. The breadth of historical contexts contained in this volume provides compelling evidence that entrepreneurship is important for economic growth and that institutions shape entrepreneurship. This well-researched and well-written book is a pleasure to read."--David Audretsch, Indiana University

Product Details

  • Series: Kauffman Foundation Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Hardcover: 584 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691143706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691143705
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 7.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,037,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical world tour of entrepreneurship May 31, 2011
Money might make the world go around, but the spinning wouldn't happen without entrepreneurs and their innovations. This thorough examination of world entrepreneurship delves into many of the globe's important economies, from the ancient Middle East to modern-day China. Edited by three scholars, David S. Landes, Joel Mokyr and William J. Baumol, this work is a collection of essays by more than 20 academics. While not exactly a page-turner, this study serves up historical context that will help readers understand the cultural currents and political forces that shape entrepreneurship throughout the world. It's intriguing to note, for instance, that most major economies (with the exception of the US) have harbored a deep-seated bias against entrepreneurs. getAbstract recommends this book to business people who love history or to historians who want to know about the development of commercial enterprise.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, deep May 17, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An impressive and deep long-term view of the history of entrepreneurship. Fascinating for scholars and entrepreneurs. Well worth it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a veritable dream-team of editors - the top experts in their respective fields, pulling together insights gleaned from long careers in economics and history.

Edited volumes are always hit and miss. The quality is rarely the same across chapters. This book is one of the best edited books I have read, since its quality is smooth across, much like the Economist magazine, which while written by various writers, has a consistency. I found that to be the case here.

This is the best new book on entrepreneurship and one that I highly recommend.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first in its kind September 19, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is the first in its kind of historical perspective of creation of economic enterprises from ancient to modern. Rather academic but easy to read. A must-have list for visionary managers as well as advanced scholars.
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