Abstract: Entrepreneurial Theory and the History of Globalization

R. Daniel Wadhwani and Geoffrey Jones


This paper builds on the recent efforts of a number of scholars to reintroduce entrepreneurship into the research agenda of business historians. We consider the role of entrepreneurship in the history of multinational business and globalization. The paper examines the value and limitations of adapting recent social scientific theories and methods on entrepreneurship to research on international business history. Specifically, we focus on three recent areas of social scientific work on entrepreneurship and weigh their value to business history research. First, we consider research on entrepreneurial cognition and the extent to which it can be employed to understand the historical ownership advantages of multinational firms. Second, we draw on concepts from entrepreneurial strategy and finance and examine the extent to which they can be used to understand the history of how firms allocated resources to uncertain international ventures. Finally, we focus on the question of the diffusion of the benefits of globalization and their impact on entrepreneurship within host economies. We conclude that the cautious adoption of some of these recent conceptual developments offers fertile opportunities for further research in international business history.

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