Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Features, General, Issue 2 (March/April 2013), Volume 21

Entrepreneurs 1Written in French in the late 1720s, though not published until 1755, long after his death, Cantillon’s Essai contains the first known use of the term entrepreneur and is where he became the first economist to develop formally the now fundamental insights concerning the role entrepreneurship plays in the economy. Cantillon’s writing portrays entrepreneurs as the undertakers of great business adventures. Entrepreneurs purchase inputs at a given price to produce and sell later at an uncertain price in the pursuit of profit. Distinguished from those who work for a fixed income, as the one who faces the speculative risk of uncertain returns brought about by unpredictable changes in consumer demand the entrepreneur is responsible for bringing competition to the market. In so doing, entrepreneurs bring production and prices into line with demand. The engine of a nation’s economy, the successful entrepreneur will profit and prosper, while the unsuccessful will go bankrupt.


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