G. F. Handel, Entrepreneur

Handel’s Messiah is perhaps the best-known piece of Christmas choral music, and one of the great contributions to Western culture. Less is known about Handel’s entrepreneurial endeavors, however. The Acton Institute PowerBlog offers some provocative discussion, including this quote from Handel scholar Tim Slover:

The Royal Family, fellow Germans from the same region of Hanover, were staunch supporters of his work, but this did not translate into financial security for Handel, as the Crown only sporadically underwrote his opera seasons. When weddings or other occasions called for it, the Hanovers commissioned music from him, but this was never enough to live on, and, anyway, Handel was no court composer. By temperament he was an entrepreneur. He spent several months of every year striking business deals with theater owners, auditioning and hiring singers, and rehearsing and performing instrumental music, operas, and oratorios. His fortunes rose or fell with the public’s reception of his music, and there were lean times as well as prosperous ones.

For more on entrepreneurship in the creative arts, see Art Entrepreneurship, edited by Mikael Scherdin and Ivo Zander. I also highly recommend Paul Cantor’s fantastic lecture series on “Commerce and Culture.”


Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship

Forwarded from the Kauffman Foundation, our friends in nearby Kansas City:

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research. View the full Call for Nominations for details. Nominations may be submitted online through this nomination form

The Kauffman Foundation established the Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research in 2008 to recognize tenured or tenure-track junior faculty members at accredited U.S. universities who are beginning to establish a record of scholarship and exhibit the potential to make significant contributions to the body of research in the field of entrepreneurship.

This initiative will help to launch world-class scholars into a young and exciting field of research, thus laying a foundation for future scientific advancement. The findings generated by this effort will be translated into knowledge with significant applications for policymakers, educators, service providers, and entrepreneurs as well as high-quality academic research.

The Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research is one of three academic recognition programs established by the Kauffman Foundation to aid the Foundation in achieving its goal of building a body of respected entrepreneurship research and making entrepreneurship a highly regarded academic field. The other programs are the Kauffman Dissertation Fellowship Program and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship.

Click here to be notified when new information on the Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship in Entrepreneurship Research becomes available.

The Great Successor and Political Entrepreneurship

North and South Korea "after" dark

North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Il is dead. The State Media reports that he died Saturday morning at age 69 on his “private” train of a heart attack (see also CNNFox, CBS). The population has already been prepared for the successor – in fact, the “Great Successor” to take over after the “Dear Leader” – Kim Jong Un, the third generation of “leaders” in the dictator-family.

(Obviously, the North Koreans seem to quickly be running out of good names for their dictators: from the Great Leader to the Dear Leader to the… Great Successor? What’s next?)

Let us hope that this successor is alert to his great opportunity to make history through replacing dictatorship with something much less invasive. After all, North Korea is failing and their lack of market incentives and private property (and consequently, entrepreneurship) means they are consuming whatever is left of their built-up capital. In other words, they are regressing in terms of prosperity and wealth, as one would expect from non-market economies.

Kim Jong Un, if you are reading this, here’s your great chance to make a difference: North Korea would be much better off with some political entrepreneurship. How about a “new economic policy” for your starving population – and perhaps a little freedom too?

China’s Entrepreneurship Problem

Douglas Hervey writes on the HBR Blog Network about China’s entrepreneurship problem. While Hervey’s take on this problem is both a little unexpected and a bit odd, the truth of the matter is not: there is indeed an entrepreneurship problem in the People’s Republic of China.

It should be no surprise that entrepreneurship is problematic in a planned economy, even if it – like China – is planned to use certain features of capitalist production. In fact, this follows from what Ludwig von Mises identified already in 1920 in an article that spurred the socialist calculation debate in the 1920s and 1930s, and then elaborated on in 1922 in the book Die Gemeinwirtschaft (published in English as Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis).

The essence of the argument is that entrepreneurs, while imagining profit opportunities in the unknown future, must rely on market prices to be able to calculate profitability of projects and, consequently, to choose between available alternatives. Market prices tend to reflect consumer valuation in an unhampered market where supply and demand consistently “chase” each other, and the market prices of the produced means of production therefore reflect their respective social value (in terms of consumer want satisfaction) and so direct production toward more efficient/productive (profitable) uses. Without market prices, there is no way for entrepreneurs to correctly anticipate consumer wants or the best (most efficient) use of resources. Read more of this post

McQuinn in D.C.

Here’s McQuinn Center Director Peter G. Klein speaking to the House Financial Services Committee last Tuesday on business cycles and their effects on entrepreneurs. The talk was off the record and there is no written report, but yo can guess the tenor based on previous entries here at entrepreneurship@McQuinn.

“Societal” Entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship has found its way as an important concept into most areas. We talk of entrepreneurship in the very general form as human action or judgment, and entrepreneurship in the more limited sense of self employment or firm startups; individual or collective entrepreneurship; or economic entrepreneurship as distinct from social, political, and public entrepreneurship. But perhaps we should also add entrepreneurship in the sense of creating new societies?

At least, this is the way I interpret this Economist article on the entrepreneurial projects attempting to establish new micro societies in the form of “free cities” in Honduran development regions. Say what you will about the philosophical attractiveness of these particular cities, but the concept of free cities has been tried before (see here and here). And the historical impact was neither negligible nor disadvantageous (economically or socially). It remains to be seen what possible impact these states might have, if realized.

Schumpeter’s Contemporary Relevance

McQuinn Center friend and Université d’Angers doctoral student Matt McCaffrey writes in today’s International Business Times on the relevance and importance of Schumpeter’s thinking on the entrepreneur.

From the article:

While he was by no means the perfect economist, he remains one of the most challenging and thought-provoking minds of the 20th century. Schumpeter has been called the “prophet of innovation” because of his emphasis on the importance of the entrepreneur in driving the economy. Sometimes, however, he played the role of a sort of end-of-the-world prophet, predicting the decline of capitalist economies into socialism.

Matt goes on to talk about how Schumpeter’s thinking, developed and written down during the Great Depression, seems to be equally applicable on the current financial crisis. And he discusses how entrepreneurship is ultimately crippled by what economist Robert Higgs terms “regime uncertainty.” Interestingly, while some economists (Knight, Misesdefine entrepreneurship as uncertainty bearing, the forceful changing of the rules of the game – regime uncertainty – distorts, undermines, and ultimately makes uncertainty bearing impossible.

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