The economist Joseph Schumpeter is known for a number of things. But for me, two of them stand out. He defined the role of the entrepreneur and he introduced the idea of growth as "creative destruction." Arts & Letters Daily recently had two links that focused on these ideas. Both are worth your consideration.
The first is a review of the book, American Colussus: The Triumph of Capitalism by H. W. Brands that appeared in The Wall Street Journal. It is a study of those entrepreneurs we first learned of as "robber barons" in early forays into American History. Reviewer Amity Shlaes finds fault with Brand's approach of pitting capitalism against democracy. And I understand why.
If we focus on "creative destruction" we may forget that it is the democratic choice (voting with dollars) of the majority that brings about true change, destroying one industry and creating another. While I have not read the book, I may have to add it to my holiday "wish list" despite Shlae's reservations.
The second link is an essay by Virginia Postrel on Big Questions Online. Postrel suggests that entrepreneurial spirit may be less about risk-taking and more about youthful optimism, or as she borrows it - irrational exuberance. That would seem to square with Schumpeter's views of the entrepreneur - one who opens a market, finds a new source of resources, develops a new product, develops a new product, or develops a new business organization. My only question is why Postrel didn't include him among the others she reference in her article. No matter - the idea is what counts in this case. And her article has an excellent idea.
I look forward to your comments.