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Franco Amatori

1. An elusive phenomenon Entrepreneurship is an issue that has dominated public attention quite a bit over the past two decades. Its glamour is due to a number of reasons. First, the crisis of the large corporation which appeared to be governed by managers-bureaucrats (Nohria, Dyer and Dalzell 2001) and the contemporary discovery of the entrepreneurially-based small business (Birch 1979). Decisive in shaping the view of entrepreneurship in the public imagination is the fact that, typically, great entrepreneurs have characterized the huge restructuring process of the Nineties (think of Jack Welch at General Electric) (O'Boyle 1998). But most especially important is the fact that real entrepreneurs have been able to ride the great wave of innovation in those industries-- such as electronics and informationcommunication technologies—which in turn have brought the world into the era of

globalization (Cusumano and Selby 1995; Chandler 2001). Entrepreneurship seems so central to the wealth and competitiveness of a nation that in all advanced countries there is a tendency to attempt to codify it-- both for instructional as well as for industrial policies. In the United States alone we find hundreds of colleges and business schools offering academic programs or centers dedicated to entrepreneurship (Swedberg 2000: 8). Notwithstanding its acknowledged centrality in the economic process, entrepreneurship is an elusive phenomenon, a concept very difficult to define clearly, a


concept so protean that it is virtually impossible to categorize it in a mathematically formalized discourse. Entrepreneurship appears in different sizes: it can be found in large corporations as well as in small retail shops. It can present itself under various forms. You may discover that it’s a motivating force behind a scientist who assigns economic meaning to his or her lab...