A Modern Schultzian Political Entrepreneur?

President Barack Obama, it is reported in the media, has signed an executive order that makes a formal system of the indefinite detentions of suspected terrorists in the military prison at Guantanamo bay. Two years ago the same President, in another executive order, promised to put an end to the detention center established by previous President George W. Bush.

While this is an obvious example of politicians changing their minds (and political agenda) over time, it may also be an example of Schultzian adaptation entrepreneurship in politics. Schultz understood entrepreneurship as the ability to adjust or reallocate resources in response to changing circumstances.

Writes Schultz (1979, p. 2):

No matter what part of the economy is being investigated, we observe that people are consciously reallocating their resources in response to changes in economic conditions

While Schultz certainly did not have it in mind, this type of entrepreneurship as adaptation to contextual changes seems quite applicable on modern politics and, more specifically, what can be termed “political entrepreneurship.” Then the question becomes whether the change in Obama’s policy is an adaptation to changes in political conditions, and hence if Obama is a political entrepreneur of the Schultzian variety.

Unfortunately, the data for existing and changing “political conditions” on which the administration bases its decisions — while probably measurable and likely both measured and collected — are in all likelihood classified for national security reasons. Perhaps these data will be made available in the future for scholars of entrepreneurship looking deeper at the workings of the political apparatus. Whether we can hope for such change is pure speculation.


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