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NOTE: Since 2009 the title of the International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education (IJEE) has been changed to the title above.  ISSN numbers: IJEE 1649-2269 and IRE 2009-2822

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ISSN Number: 2009-2822. Frequency: 4 Issues per year (online only)  

Article #1603 - Changing Ideas and Contours of Entrepreneurship in the History of Thought: On the Fluidity and Indefiniteness of a Term

IRE Vol 17: Issue 2, 2019, Pages 145-168

Author(s): Dieter Bögenhold (University of Klagenfurt, Austria)

Not only in the history of economic theory are changing conceptions and definitions of entrepreneurship on the agenda but also current entrepreneurship research shows oscillating contours in the semantic use of the word. The paper takes this notion as a backdrop, endeavouring to differentiate and spell out different relationships between entrepreneurship and self-employment. In some cases, entrepreneurship and self-employment have a one-to-one fit and can be used interchangeably while in other cases, entrepreneurship does not correspond to the labour market category of self-employment or, vice versa, self-employment as practised in reality does not match entrepreneurship empirically. Freelancers working part-time or full-time, farmers, micro-entrepreneurs without employees, and 'big' entrepreneurs employing a larger number of wage- or salary-dependent employees are difficult to summarize in one single box. The intention of this paper is to provide an introduction to the different semantics and to highlight and explain difficulties that arise when talking about entrepreneurship in order to systematize competing and hazy interpretations. The general discussion attempts to combine an explanation in economics, which is rather economically-functionally oriented, with an explanation with a sociological-institutional focus, which is oriented more in terms of social rationalities, biographies and various other dimensions.