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Literature IncorporatedThe Cultural Unconscious of the Business Corporation, 1650-1850$
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John O'Brien

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226291123

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226291260.001.0001

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The Entrepreneur as Corporate Hero

(p.218) Coda
Literature Incorporated

John O’brien

University of Chicago Press

This coda provides a brief genealogy of the entrepreneur, which has become a highly-romanticized figure in the modern economic imaginary. Reading works by Ronald Coase, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Jefferson, and others, this chapter argues that the entrepreneur, imagined as a solo agent bravely taking on risks that others will not, is the ultimate economic fictional character, a figure of the imagination far more than an empirically real thing. The coda takes the fervency with which the figure of the entrepreneur has been seized by economic writers as a measure of the extent to which the corporate unconscious has come to dominate our collective imagination.

Keywords:   entrepreneur, Ronald Coase, Milton Friedman, Jean-Baptiste Say, ideology

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