[OPE-L:8232] 'entrepreneurial ability' in late capitalism

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Mon Dec 23 2002 - 09:42:09 EST

Re Michael E's [8227]:

> I wouldn't call entrepreneurial ability a 'factor of production' because
> the  specific _dynamis meta logou_, i.e. ability guided by insight,
> which the entrepreneur exercises is the ability to see opportunities
> for profit and to skilfully organize how these opportunities can be
> exploited. This goes beyond  "production". It is a leadership role
> which involves employing and controlling employees, and getting
> hold of the necessary land, money-capital (investment  capital,
> venture capital), means of production for the venture.

I think this is an increasingly archaic view of entrepreneurship that was  a
better description of 19th Century entrepreneurship than 21st Century

A consequence of the increasing concentration and centralization of capital
is that many of the functions which were previously done by 'entrepreneurs'
(capitalists) are increasingly delegated to a managerial layer which
exercises control even where it doesn't have ownership.  Within this
hierarchy,  'entrepreneurship' is increasingly limited to only ownership:
thus all that is  required to become an 'entrepreneur' within the context of
an existing corporation is money-capital with which to purchase stocks.
This hardly requires "leadership" or what you go on to call "human
ingenuity".  Of course, in _smaller_  firms there is often more direct
involvement by the entrepreneur in other  functions including supervision
(i.e. extracting work from workers), distribution, marketing,  accounting,

> There is a phenomenon which can be called human ingenuity. All of us have
> it to  some degree, say, when we improvise a do-it-yourself repair.
> The phenomenon is  that things reveal themselves to human being in their
> usefulness for something  or other. That is the being of practical things
> (_pragmata_) in the broadest sense. A successful entrepreneur is often
> someone who sees a usefulness and also has the skill to bring it to
> i.e.  to get the value of this new,  ingenious use-value acknowledged
> abstractly by others through the market.  Examples abound in capitalism,
> no matter whether one regards the invention of,   say, Tupperware or
> microwave ovens or standardized motel chains or the LP
> record  as a happy invention for humankind or not. The test lies in the
> marketplace,   where the value of an invention is either recognized or
> fails to gain  value-recognition in money.

Within the context of increasingly oligopolistic markets, firms tend to be
risk-averters.  Indeed, the whole trend towards diversification could be
seen in part as an attempt to 'spread-out', and thereby diminish, risk.
Examples  abound in  late capitalism of risk-aversion.  (Indeed it even
enters the political sphere: e.g. corporations who donate funds to the
political campaigns of opposing candidates.)

> (snip, JL) perhaps we disagree about wherein this "exploitation" consists.

Do you agree that exploitation is part of the 'essence' of capitalism?  If
so, where do you think we disagree?

In solidarity, Jerry

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