Monday, September 30, 2013

Value Chain and Entrepreneurs: causality or correlation?

Opinion article by Nathalia Rios Ballesteros* (

Economics student at Universidad EAFIT

In colloquial sense, entrepreneurship is usually associated with starting a business, but strictly, this definition and application goes much further and hides behind its words, a wide history and conceptual interpretation of it. The term “entrepreneur” derives its origin from French economists who first introduced the term in the 18th century. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it comes from the French word “entreprendre” which means someone who “undertakes” or “carry out” a significant project or activity. More specifically, it appeals to describe the daring individuals who stimulate economic progress by finding new and better ways of doing things. The French economist most commonly linked and credited for giving the term this particular meaning is Jean Baptiste Say. By the 19th century, Say stated; “The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield”[1]. In brief, entrepreneurs create value.
Along with this “economic conception” of entrepreneurs, Joseph Schumpeter based his definition affirming that the function of entrepreneurs is to reform, change or modify the production pattern through various ways: “by exploiting an invention or, more generally, an untried technological possibility for producing a new commodity or producing an old one in a new way, by opening up a new source of supply of materials or a new outlet for products, by reorganizing an industry and so on.”[2] In a nutshell, Schumpeter’s entrepreneurs are the change agents in the economy.
Following this theoretical conceptions, arise the notion of value chain, which along with entrepreneurs are responsible for creating value. Regarding this, entrepreneurship and innovation cannot be fully understood without a proper understanding of the position and behavior of entrepreneurs in the value chain. Although entrepreneurship involves changes, transformations and improvements in products or services, entrepreneurial opportunities can, in fact, occur as a result of changes in a variety of parts of the value chain, thus raising the value generated by entrepreneurs. In this sense, the entrepreneur’s idea, then, may span several parts of an industry’s through the value chain; entrepreneurs are key for spreading success throughout the value chains which indicates that the presence of entrepreneurship may involve a better outcome obtained through the implementation of value chains.
"Entrepreneur" in this sense may result as an strategic element for; identifying, evaluating and exploiting undiscovered or new business opportunities; for revitalizing, energizing or renewing existing organizations in response to the perceived opportunity and for boosting the economy-innovation, competition, creation of employment through the creation of additional and new value and thus, in sum improving the general welfare of society.

[1] (Say, (1803, tr. from the 4th ed. 1821))
[2] (Schumpeter, 1911)

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