Entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurship) play a vital dual role

05.12.2023 2 min
Read my column on the figure of the entrepreneur, published alongside those of Philippe Aghion; Bernard Arnault; Nicolas Baverez; Thomas Buberl; Monique Canto-Sperber; Nicolas Dufourcq; Bruno Le Maire; Xavier Niel and Agnès Verdier-Molinié, on the same theme, in the special 10th anniversary edition of "L'Opinion" on 12 May 2023

First, economically. For many, growth is a matter of innovation and creation. This is notably what breaks rents, allows for technological revolutions, productivity growth, thus growth in non-inflationary wages, etc.

Growth momentum comes from the economy’s capacity for movement, to experience changes in consumption standards, such as production standards, etc.

Moreover, entrepreneurs are the ones who take the risks of innovation, novelty and bold calculations. Entrepreneurs can take action within companies, provided they give them the opportunity and space to do so. They can also be company founders. Over the long term, the economy experiences the emergence and disappearance of firms. These two moments coexist and are necessary for each other. Some sectors are expanding while others are evaporating. And this is one of the drivers of the economy’s growth and its ability to adapt. This is the creation/destruction mechanism so well analysed by Joseph Schumpeter, then brilliantly reinterpreted by Philippe Aghion.

Secondly, but not less importantly, entrepreneurs are also essential because they contribute to equal opportunities. Rents hinder the latter. The ability to innovate, produce something new, can allow categories of people with lower levels of insertion or less established within the existing system to emerge and create wealth for society and for themselves. Entrepreneurship thus makes it possible to disrupt the established order, when the rules of the game in force make the current situations more rigid. Of course, for this to work, the “institutions” have to allow it and promote it. This applies to competition law, education, methods of financing innovation such as the start-up ecosystem or start-ups, etc. as well as the culture of each company that promotes and values, or not, successes or failures…

The entrepreneur, whether a founder or developer of a business, must be one of the leading figures of our societies in order to promote both economic growth and equal opportunities. Two pillars that strengthen one another and which form the basis of the social pact.

Olivier Klein
CEO of BRED and Professor of Financial Macroeconomics and of Monetary Policy at HEC Paris