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What Do We Mean When We Say That Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Policy) Increase “Welfare”?

Christian Schubert ()

Journal of Economic Issues, 2015, vol. 49, issue 1, 1-22

Abstract: Research on innovation and entrepreneurship policy (IEP) is almost exclusively concerned with the instrumental question of which policy measures are most effective in promoting “productive” entrepreneurial activities. The positive (political economy) and normative (welfare) dimensions are largely neglected. I focus on the latter, asking what could be a plausible normative rationale for innovation policy beyond the simple invocation of “growth” and the related use of orthodox criteria (such as “market failure”). This is a non-trivial issue, given (i) the ambiguous welfare implications of innovation in general, and (ii) the fact that standard notions of welfare cannot be consistently applied in an entrepreneurial, “Schumpeterian” economy. I suggest a dynamic criterion according to which IEP should ensure that individuals are able to engage in effective preference learning over time. This reconstruction of the normative basis of innovation policy helps clarify several contentious issues, among which are the desirability of selfemployment and the role of social security arrangements.

Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1080/00213624.2015.1013859

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