Skip to main content

Questioning the Entrepreneurial State

Status-quo, Pitfalls, and the Need for Credible Innovation Policy

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2022

You have full access to this open access Book


  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access
  • Provides a holistic critique of the notion of an ‘Entrepreneurial State’
  • Analyses both failed and successful innovation policies in Europe, USA, and China
  • Assists in future policy-design

Part of the book series: International Studies in Entrepreneurship (ISEN, volume 53)

Buy print copy

Softcover Book USD 16.99 USD 49.99
Discount applied Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

About this book

The 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic have made the authorities to increasingly turn inward and use ethnocentrism, protectionism, and top-down approaches to guide policy on trade, competition, and industrial development. The continuing aftereffects of such policies range from the rise and seeming success of authoritarian states, rise of populist and protectionist trends, and evolving academic agendas inspiring the reemergence of top-down industrial policies across the world.

This open access edited volume contains contributions from over 30 scholars with expertise in economics, innovation, management, and economic history. The chapters offer unique theoretical and empirical contributions discussing topics such as how industrial policies affect risk, incentives, and information for investments. They also address the policy perspectives on new technologies such as AI and its implications for market entry, the role for independent entrepreneurship in increasingly regulated markets, and whether governments should focus on market interventions or institutional capacity-building.

 Questioning the Entrepreneurial State initiates a much sought-after debate on the notion of an Entrepreneurial State. It discusses the dangers of top-down approaches to industrial policy, examines lessons from such approaches for future policy design, and calls attention to the progress of open and contestable markets in a sound economy and society. 

 “Creative destruction, innovation and entrepreneurship are at the core of economic growth. The government has a clear role, to provide the basic fabric of a dynamic society, but industrial policy and state-owned companies are the boulevard of broken dreams and unrealized visions. This important message is convincingly stated in Questioning the Entrepreneurial State.”

Anders Borg, former Minister of Finance, Sweden

“Misreading the dynamism of American entrepreneurship, European intellectuals and policy makers have embraced a dangerous fantasy: catching up requires constructing an entrepreneurial state.  This book provides a vital antidote: The entrepreneur comes first: The state may support. It cannot lead.”

Amar Bhidé, Thomas Schmidheiny Professor of International Business, Tufts University

 “This important new book subjects the emergence of the entrepreneurial state, which reflects a shift in the locus of entrepreneurship from the individual to the public sector, to the scrutiny of rigorous analysis. The resulting concerns, flaws and biases inherent in the entrepreneurial state exposed are both alarming and sobering. The skill and scholarly craftsmanship brought to bear in this crucial analysis is evident throughout the book, along with the even, but ultimately consequential thinking of the authors. A must read for researchers and thought leaders in business and policy."

David Audtretsch, Distinguished Professor, Ameritech Chair of Economic Development, Indiana University

Similar content being viewed by others


Table of contents (18 chapters)

  1. Introductory Chapter

  2. The Entrepreneurial State: Theoretical Perspectives

  3. The Entrepreneurial State, Entrepreneurial Universities, and Startups

  4. The Entrepreneurial State and Sustainability Transitions

  5. From the Entrepreneurial State Towards Evidence-Based Innovation Policy


“All three books provide important guideposts for organizing collective effort to develop the kinds of technologies needed to address the most important global problems of the twenty-first century. The academic credentials and scholarly perspectives of the contributors infuse Wennberg and Sandstro¨m’s edited volume with an analytical tone and comparative institutional lens that are very welcome in the conversation regarding how public policymakers should identify opportunities for encouraging innovation.” (Anita M. McGahan, Administrative Science Quarterly, October 31, 2023)

“The book is written for both academics and policymakers, and it is written clearly without an assumption that readers possess a strong foundation of economic training. … Questioning the Entrepreneurial State is an excellent edited volume comprising thought provoking concerns about the viability of an entrepreneurial state. … After reading this edited volume, readers will learn not just the entrepreneurial state and criticisms, but will learn about a variety of topics on institutions, ecosystems, sustainability, and politics related to entrepreneurship and innovation.” (Christopher John Boudreaux, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Vol. 32, 2022)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden

    Karl Wennberg

  • Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping, Sweden

    Christian Sandström

About the editors

Karl Wennberg holds the Barbara Bergström Chair of Educational Leadership and Quality and is a research fellow at the House of Innovation, both at the Stockholm School of Economics (Sweden). He is one of the leading scholars on entrepreneurship in Europe, with over 60 published scholarly articles in high-ranking journals and 10 books. His research is on entrepreneurship, innovation policy, and organization theory, where public policy implication of theoretical and empirical research has been a common thread in his research. 

Christian Sandström is Senior Associate Professor of Digital Business at Jönköping International Business School (Sweden) and the Ratio Institute (Sweden). His research concerns innovation policy and the interplay between technological and institutional change.

Bibliographic Information

Publish with us