November 28, 2006
More on Law & Entrepreneurship
Posted by Gordon Smith

Sorry for the light posting lately. In addition to the usual end-of-semester scramble, I have been working feverishly on several articles. In one of those papers (co-authored with Masako Ueda), I try to push the ball forward on "law and entrepreneurship." I have posted previously about that paper here and here, and a near final version will soon go up on SSRN.

In the course of writing that paper, I encountered an number of fascinating articles in finance and in the entrepreneurship literature. Of course, I am particularly interested in the development of entrepreneurship as a separate field, so I found this co-citation analysis quite helpful in developing a map of that field, such as it is: Henri A. Schildt et al., Scholarly Communities in Entrepreneurship Research: A Co-Citation Analysis, 30 Entrepreneurship Theory & Prac. 399 (2006).

Unfortunately, I didn't find a linkable copy of the article, but this is the money sentence: "Our research reveals 25 distinct groups of studies, attesting to the diversity and fragmentation of past entrepreneurship research." Among the top ten groups of studies are "Entrepreneurial Networks and Resource Accumulation," "Corporate Entrepreneurship and Venturing," "Conceptualizations of Entrepreneurial Processes," "Alertness, Opportunity Creation, and Creative Destruction," "Psychological Characteristics of Entrepreneurs," and "Psychological Characteristics of Entrepreneurs."

Entrepreneurship scholars seem concerned about the possibility of excessive fragmentation in their field, and several attempts have been made to reduce the field to more manageable central concepts. See, e.g., Scott Shane & S. Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship as a Field of Research, 25 Acad. Mgmt. Rev. 217 (2000); Jonathan T. Eckhardt & Scott A. Shane, Opportunities and Entrepreneurship, 29 J. Mgmt. 333 (2003). The latter article, co-authored by my friend and colleague Jon Eckhardt, contains the following:

[W]e assume that equilibrium is either never fully realized in market economies (Kirzner, 1985), or is intermittently disrupted by the profit-seeking actions of individuals (Schumpteter, 1934). Thus, in contrast to equilibrium theories, which assume away the existence of entrepreneurial opportunities, we view entrepreneurship as requiring those opportunities (Shane, 2000).

Following Venkataraman (1997),we define entrepreneurship as the discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of future goods and services. This definition suggests that, as a scholarly field, entrepreneurship involves the study of opportunities (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000).

If entrepreneurship involves the study of opportunities, "law and entrepreneurship" might find a home in the study of positive law (constitutions, statutes, and regulations), common law doctrines, and private ordering that relate to “the discovery and exploitation of profitable opportunities." At least that is where I am on this issue today.

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