I was interested to read about Mariana Mazzucato’s book, The Entrepreneurial State which looks at the role of the public sector in entrepreneurship. Of course, the public sector tends to be looked upon as the opposite of entrepreneurial and is much criticised for this (see Du Gay’s Organising Identity which touches on this subject). Mazzucato argues that in many cases, the innovations at the heart of many entrepreneurial companies, were often developed through publicly funded research. In a recent article in Public Finance International, she states:
But what if the image we are constantly fed – of a dynamic business sector contrasted with a necessary but sluggish bureaucratic, often ‘meddling’, state – is completely wrong?
What if the revolutionary, most radical, changes in capitalism came not from the invisible hand of the market but the very visible hand of the state?
According to Mazzucato, many technological innovations behind products such as the Iphone, GPS, touchscreen etc. were government funded. So rather than a ‘meddling’ state, she presents The Entrepreneurial State.
This position reminded me of a chapter by Anne De Bruin, Entrepreneurship in The Creative Industries, who writes about how various levels of entrepreneurship have enabled innovation in New Zealand”s the film industry. De Bruin states that the New Zealand government developed policies with the Screen Production Industry to grow the sector through funding opportunities and public and private partnerships. Similarly to Mazzucato, De Bruin explains that:
Typically, entrepreneurial focus has been on the individual and the firm. Recent research, however, has pointed to the need to consider the external context or a creative milieu as being of importance to innovation (see, for example, Kresl and Singh, 1999; Porter and Stern, 2001)…The strategic state is a key driver of innovation in the national economy and is seen as a catalyst in the creation of favourable systemic conditions for knowledge creation and an important actor within the National Innovation Systems framework and regional systems of innovation.
While De Bruin recognises Peter Jackson’s (Lord of the Rings) contribution as a film maker and entrepreneur, she presents his success and that of the New Zealand film industry as a partnership in which risk taking and entrepreneurial characteristics are applied at multiple levels.