Regional Transformation as Cumulative Effect of Entrepreneurial Agency: The case of Princely Mysore (1881 – 1950)

The interest of this paper is to understand ‘the nature of the relationship or linkages that tie together entrepreneurial actions into a sequence’ at the regional level. I reread the economic transformation of Princely Mysore during colonial period in India with a focus on the role of entrepreneurial agency in engendering such transformation. Princely Mysore which transitioned to native rule in 1881 after fifty years of direct colonial administration embarked on an industrialization journey. By 1947 when India achieved independence from colonial rule, the region of Mysore was considered an industrial pioneer and credited as ‘Modern Mysore’/ ‘Industrial Mysore’. Though economic historians of the region suggest that these credentials are overrated, I study the entrepreneurial processes that brought about these credentials and the accompanying socio-economic and cultural transformation of the region. Drawing from archival sources that include speeches and writings of various actors, periodicals from the period of interest and complementing them with secondary sources, I construct an analytically structured history of how entrepreneurial processes shaped this regional transformation. The narrative aids in building on the scholarly work of Schumpeter (1949), Cole (1959), Galambos and Amatori (2016) and Wadhwani (2020) to expand the idea of how entrepreneurial agency draws creatively from entrepreneurial processes and regional context of the past and builds on entrepreneurial imaginations serving diverse ends in the future to dynamically transform the region over time. The case of Mysore highlights various entrepreneurial processes such as mobilizing narratives, exhibitionism, stakeholder engagements, experimentation etc besides recombination of factors of production. I argue that entrepreneurial processes in such diverse richness have a cumulative effect on regional transformation. And this cumulative nature of entrepreneurship is both sequential – not linear but drawing selectively from past - and emergent – entrepreneurial agency emerging from the interaction between various actors, regional context, and exogenous events.