Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 349–379 | Cite as

Entrepreneurship and institutional change

The case of surrogate motherhood
  • Pavel KuchařEmail author
Regular Article


Entrepreneurs do more than just buy low and sell high; they sometimes also change our institutions, including our categories of thought. New institutional economics has been examining incentives that drive individuals to bring about market-supporting institutional arrangements. There is, however, an aspect of entrepreneurship conducive to institutional changes that has been neglected by contemporary institutionalist theories and that remains underdeveloped in entrepreneurship research. When and how does entrepreneurship bring about institutional change? I suggest that entrepreneurs are agents of institutional change when cultural categorization is ambiguous with regard to the proper and permissible applications of novel artifacts. Motherhood, for example, used to be a simple category, but surrogacy changed that radically. Examining newspaper evidence, social surveys, statutory law, and judicial cases, I show how entrepreneurs, by provoking a change in interpretation and judgment, challenged the existing institutional legal ordering of procreation turning a technically feasible method of surrogacy into current practice.


Institutional change Entrepreneurship Surrogate motherhood Persuasion Political processes 

JEL Classification

B52 D02 D72 F16 K40 L26 



I am grateful to Niclas Berggren, Enrico Colombatto, Giuseppe Eusepi, Aristides Hatzis, Dan Klein, Hugh McLachlan and Richard Wagner for helpful suggestions. I also wish to thank to participants at the 2014 Prague Conference on Political Economy for their ideas and appreciate the comments of discussants at the 2014 Southern Economic Association conference in Atlanta, GA. Finally, I thank to participants at the Texas Tech Free Market Institute Research Workshop and to participants at the New York University Colloquium on Market Institutions and Economic Processes for good discussion. This work benefits from the thoughts and insights of two reviewers, whose generous feedback has been of great value in clarifying and sharpening some of the ideas presented here. All remaining errors are my own.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and FinanceUniversidad de GuanajuatoGuanajuato GTOMexico

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