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Baumol's Productive and Unproductive Entrepreneurship after 25 Years

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Forthcoming

GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 16-11

18 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2016 Last revised: 10 Apr 2016

Peter J. Boettke

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Ennio Emanuele Piano

George Mason University

Date Written: February 19, 2016

Abstract

William J. Baumol’s “Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, and Destructive” has become a modern classic in development economics and political economy. With the publication of his paper, Baumol forced the economic profession to pay closer attention to the institutional structure within which human action takes place. Institutions are the rules of the game of society, the ultimate determinants of the incentive structure faced by entrepreneurs alert to profit opportunities. Economic development is a function of whether the incentives favor productive activities (such us those aimed at mutually beneficially exchanges) or whether they encourage rent seeking, theft, and conflict. In this paper, we restate Baumol’s simple but radical insight and apply it to the process of economic transition of Soviet Russia from communism to a free market economy. This case study illustrates the explanatory power and the limits of Baumol’s argument.

Keywords: William Baumo, Entrepreneurship, Economic Development, Institutions

JEL Classification: B31, O12, P51

Suggested Citation

Boettke, Peter J. and Piano, Ennio Emanuele, Baumol's Productive and Unproductive Entrepreneurship after 25 Years (February 19, 2016). Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Forthcoming; GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 16-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2735156

Peter J. Boettke (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1149 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Ennio Emanuele Piano

George Mason University ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

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