Par Sophie Boutillier, Dimitri Uzunidis
Is the entrepreneur an innovator or simply an economic agent who creates his own job? The response varies according to the historical context. In a context of economic growth, the entrepreneur is for the majority of economists an innovator but in periods of crisis, he is no more a hero. The aim of this paper is not to present an exhaustive analysis of the economic theories of the entrepreneur but, by revisiting the works of a few key economists, to study the evolution of the role of the entrepreneur in the capitalist society. In the history of economic thought, economists have defined the entrepreneur as the economic agent who achieves new combinations of production factors. Thus, he is defined by the innovative action. This entrepreneur is useful to explain phenomena such as economic growth, crisis and technical progress. But in the today’s managerial economy, the entrepreneur has a more pragmatic role, he becomes the saver of capitalism through job creation. In the first part of this article, we present some key approaches of the heroic entrepreneur. In the second part, we point out the place of the entrepreneur in a complex capitalist economy dominated by the state regulatory intervention and the big firms’ expansion strategies.