Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 413–444 | Cite as

The inventor’s role: was Schumpeter right?

  • Pontus BraunerhjelmEmail author
  • Roger Svensson
Regular Article


According to Schumpeter, the creative process of economic development can be divided into the stages of invention, innovation (commercialization) and imitation. Each stage is associated with specific skills. This paper examines whether Schumpeter’s assertion was correct, i.e. whether the invention and innovation stages should be undertaken by different agents. In addition, we examine whether there is a rationale for the Schumpeterian entrepreneur to include the inventor in the commercialization process. Combining the abilities of the entrepreneur and the inventor may serve to facilitate customer adaptation, strengthen knowledge transfers and reduce uncertainty, thereby expanding market opportunities. Based on a unique database covering Swedish patents granted to individuals and small firms, the empirical analysis shows that profitability increases by 22 percentage points when inventions are commercialized by the entrepreneur instead of by inventors. However, active involvement of the inventor is shown to have a significantly positive impact on profitability, irrespective of commercialization mode.


Entrepreneur Inventor Innovation Commercialization 

JEL Classification

031 032 M13 



The authors would like to thank Erik Mellander, Magnus Henrekson, Lars Persson and seminar participants at the annual EARIE conference in Valencia, the Max Planck Conference in Bangalore and the Oslo Entrepreneurship Workshop (where the paper was awarded the price of “Best paper in Entrepreneurship and Innovation”), for constructive comments. Jakob Eliasson provided excellent research assistance. The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation, and Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg’s Foundation are acknowledged for generous financial support. Finally, the paper has benefited from insightful comments in the referee process to this journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Transport and Economics, Leif Lundblad’s Chair in International Business and EntrepreneurshipThe Royal School of TechnologyStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)StockholmSweden

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