This monograph presents and interprets the results of interviews with Colombian business leaders made in 1962 and directed at questions of their origins, their roles in their firms, and their values. It is a slightly revised version of the original report, El Empresario Bogotano. Nothing has been done to investigate changes since 1962 by further surveys or to update any of the material.

The central findings are that Bogotá’s business leaders are disproportionately foreign-born (36 of the 61 interviewed); that they attach higher importance to rational as opposed to traditional values than is true of the general culture; that they are all of urban origin with few parents who were workers; and that their level of education is much higher than that of the general population. They view themselves as managers rather than entrepreneurs in the innovative sense. Their chief concern is with the success of the firm, measured by 30 percent of them in terms of profits and by 40 percent in terms of production, sales, and expansion of size. They are emphatically averse to risks. They particularly dislike foreign exchange policy (meaning, apparently, import quotas and licensing) and rate government policy in general as one of the chief handicaps to the country’s economic development.

The author’s message seems to be that a) the culture itself is not favorable for economic progress; but that b) this handicap may not greatly matter, since the country’s business leaders are such deviants, in the sense of greater rationality and drive for success. This conclusion is in a way reassuring, for it suggests that equal rationalism in government policy would yield good results through a responsive business community. But the author is not that positively inclined. He stresses lack of upward mobility into the entrepreneurial group, failure to develop educational opportunities, and deficient mass purchasing power. The last point is in the great tradition of backward reasoning, mistaking the consequence of low productivity for its cause. But the others—educational opportunity, social mobility, and national economic policy—are clearly central.

The book is consistently good in its references to the special characteristics of Colombian attitudes, especially the fatalism, the lack of self confidence, and the charming but costly disdain for the value of time. The statistical handling of the interview material sometimes raises doubts. Can one conclude from the proportion of foreign-born business leaders interviewed that this is a good approximation to their role in the parent population; or is it possible that they were more willing to be interviewed than natives? When table 53 summarizes responses to the question of identifying the “measures most needed for economic development,” and gives as the answer most often selected “expansion of the economy,” it serves as a reminder that a tautology does not become any less so for being expressed in statistical form.

Anyone concerned with Colombia will find the book informative. Anyone studying the theory of entrepreneurship will find much of interest. Anyone whose main concern is economic development will find some confusion and also some enlightening suggestions.