Abstract: "Do You Have a Garage?" Discussion of Some Myths about Entrepreneurship

Eric Godelier

Abstract

Official biographies of entrepreneurs often emphasize the importance of isolation, poverty, and determination as traits—symbolized by the garage—that drove the success of famous business innovators. U.S. examples include Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard and Bill Gates. Others who rose to success and wealth from obscure backgrounds include Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish immigrant and simple telegrapher who became a tycoon in the steel industry, and Henry Ford, who left school at the age of sixteen. In France, Louis Renault, who failed to enter the École Centrale, was a genius in mechanics; Charles Pathé, a fairground entertainer, became a famous film pioneer and a millionaire. How do those with officially little or no technical, commercial, financial, or managerial formal knowledge become successful entrepreneurs and managerial heroes? I explore two interconnected issues: how the world of business creates its own myths and heroes, and the ways in which these representations influence those who study corporate history.

BEH On-Line Paper