Greenfield, Strickon, and Aubey have overcome the innate difficulties of crossing disciplinary lines and edited essay collections to make a major contribution not only to entrepreneurial studies but to general questions of social and economic change as well.
Together with Morton Rothstein, the editors present in the introduction (Part One) an excellent review of the major theories of entrepreneurship and suggest the pressing need for a new approach. That approach, elaborated in a highly imaginative and stimulating conclusion (Part Four) written by Greenfield and Strickon, focuses on the decisionmaking behavior of individuals and challenges the long-standing functionalist theories of social, cultural, and economic phenomena. Drawn from Darwinian biological theory, the “populational” theory the two elaborate rejects the static nature of most social science theory based on an “essentialist” world view.
The emphasis on individuals as promoters of economic change in a variety of social and cultural contexts comes through clearly in most of the case studies presented in the body of the book.
In Part Two, which emphasizes individual entrepreneurs, the chapters by Greenfield on Salvador Corréia de Sá in seventeenth-century Brazil, Norman Long on multiple jobholding in Peru, and William P. Glade on public entrepreneurship in Mexico are excellent and of special interest to Latin Americanists. In Part Three, which addresses social outcomes of individual decision-making, the chapters on Mexico by Aubey and Gerald Gold and on Nicaragua by Harry W. Strachan are likewise very well done.
Throughout this volume the ability of entrepreneurs, whether from rural Wisconsin or highland Peru, both to make proper economic decisions and to build appropriate support networks based on trust and confidence, lends strong credence to the far-reaching conclusions of the final chapter. The net effect is a cross-cultural, interdisciplinary study that is far greater than the sum of its parts.