What Do Entrepreneurs Actually Do?

What do superstar bosses add to the brew

Image

Creative destruction: the product life cycle versus the revenue life cycle

Industry Life Cycle and profits

Image

Deirdre McCloskey on the competition for rents

Image

Robert Lucas and where have all the small entrepreneurs gone?

 

Robert Lucas predicted the decline in the number of small business people and small firms in 1978. The number of small firms will fall and the number of large firms will rise with increases in real wages (Lucas 1978; Poschke 2013; Gollin 2008; Eeckhout and Jovanovic 2012).

Lucas closed his 1978 discussion of the size distribution of firms, and how firms are getting larger an average over the course of the 20th century, with a discussion of a lovely restaurant he visited on the Canadian border. He predicted that in couple of decades time, these type of restaurants will be fewer.

Nations that are more productive  over time and have higher wages because they have accumulated more capital per worker.

One consequence of more capital per worker is real wages increase at a faster rate than profits (Gollin 2008; Eeckhout and Jovanovic 2012). For example, the rate of return on capital was stable over the 20th century while real wages increased many fold (Jones and Romer 2010). This relationship turns out  to be crucial in terms of occupational choice and the decision to become an entrepreneur – a small business owner

Higher wages reduces the supply of entrepreneurs and increases the average size of firms because entrepreneurship becomes a less attractive occupational choice (Lucas 1978; Gollin 2008; Eeckhout and Jovanovic 2012).

For example, in the mid-20th century, many graduates who were not teachers were self-employed professionals. With an expanding division of labour because of economic growth, many well-paid jobs and new occupations emerged for talented people in white-collar employment.

OECD countries richer than New Zealand should have less self-employment and more firms that are large because paid employment is an increasingly better-rewarded career option for their high skilled workers.

The U.S. had the second lowest share of self-employed workers (7 per cent) in the OECD in 2010 – the latest data – which is less than half the rate of New Zealand self-employment (16.5 per cent) in 2011 (OECD 2013). The Australian self-employment rate was 11.6 per cent in 2010 (OECD 2013).

A companion reason for larger average firm sizes in countries richer than New Zealand is more capital-intensive production can prosper in larger corporate hierarchies than can labour-intensive production (Lucas 1978; Becker and Murphy 1992; Poschke 2011; Eeckhout and Jovanovic 2012).

The more able entrepreneurs can run larger firms with bigger spans of control in richer countries because their employees can profitably use more capital per worker with less supervision. The diseconomies of scale to management and entrepreneurship should rise at a faster rate in less technological advanced countries such as New Zealand because they are more labour intensive economies (Lucas 1978; Becker and Murphy 1992; Poschke 2011; Eeckhout and Jovanovic 2012).

Importantly, the more able entrepreneurs benefit most from introducing frontier technologies because they can deal more easily with their increased complexity and more uncertain prospects (Poschke 2011; Lazear 2005; Shultz 1975; 1980). Growing technological complexity reduces the supply of entrepreneurs because it takes longer to acquire the necessary balance of skills and experience needed to lead a firm (Lazear 2005; Otani 1996).

The more marginal entrepreneurs will switch to be employees as technology advances so the average size of firms will increase. The entrepreneurs that remain in business will be the most able, more skilled and more experienced entrepreneurs and will be more capable of running larger firms that pioneer complex, frontier technologies (Poschke 2011; Lazear 2005, Otani 1996; Lucas 1978).

Countries more technologically advanced than New Zealand will have both larger firms and less self-employment because of growing technological complexity.

The greater is the exposure to foreign competition, the smaller is the fraction of self-employed and small firms in a country (Melitz 2003; Díez and Ozdagli 2012). More foreign competition increases wages because of lower prices, which makes self-employment less lucrative. More exporting favours larger firms both because of the fixed costs of entering export markets and because the stiffer competition will weed-out the lower ability entrepreneurs who run the smaller firms (Melitz 2003; Díez and Ozdagli 2012).

Other factors can countermand the effects that occupational choice, frontier technologies, exporting and capital intensity have to increase the average size of firms as real wages rise.

For example, tax and regulatory policies reduce the average size of firms in many EU member states to levels that are similar to New Zealand. The EU is less likely to have large firms in its labour intensive sectors. Employment protection laws, product market and land use regulation and in particular, high taxes stifled the growth of labour intensive services sectors in the continental EU (Bertrand and Kramatz 2002; Bassanini, Nunziata and Venn 2009; Rogerson 2008).

EU firms are are more capital intensive with fewer employees than otherwise because labour is so expensive to hire in the EU. Small and medium sized firms can struggle to grow in much of the EU because of regulatory burdens that phase in with firm size (Garicano, Lelarge and Van Reenen 2012; Hobijn and Sahin 2013; Rubini, Desmet, Piguillem and Crespo 2012). Average firm sizes are 40% smaller in Spain and Italy than in Germany. Obstacles to firm growth originate in product, labour, technology and financial and the binding constraints differ from one EU member state to another (Rubini, Desmet, Piguillem and Crespo 2012).

Average firm sizes in the USA and UK may be larger because of fewer tax and regulatory policies that limit business growth. Bartelsman, Scarpetta and Schivardi (2005) found that new entrants in the U.S. started on a smaller scale than in Europe but grew at a much higher rate. This willingness to experiment on a smaller scale was worth the risk because the payoff was much larger in terms of growth in the more flexible U.S. markets.

In summary, many factors drive the size distribution of firms countries including taxation and regulation. Underlying this, nonetheless, is Lucas’s point from 1978 that rising real wages makes starting a small business a less inviting occupation choice.

M.A. Adelman on natural resource exhaustion

 

Alchian and Demsetz define the classic capitalist firm

Image

Israel Kirzner on entrepreneurial alertness as the driving force of the market process

Image

Edmund Phelps on inequality, innovation and entrepreneurship

Image

Deirdre McCloskey on Adam Smith’s generalisation

Image

Previous Older Entries

Waikanae Watch

issues of relevance to Waikanae people

Climate Audit

by Steve McIntyre

healthcare-economist.com/

An unbiased look at today's health care issues

Plugging the Gap

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Mostly Economics

This blog covers research work in Economics with focus on India.

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The NEP-HIS Blog

Discussion and comment on the latest research in business, economic and financial history

Economics in the Rear-View Mirror

Archival Artifacts from the History of Economics

Reason.com

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Green Jihad

Your source that tells the truth about the environmentalist movement's holy war against mankind

Gender Abolitionist

Examining Gender Identity ideology and its impact on Women's Sex based protections. Exploring how this has taken such firm root in Western societies (Cognitive & Regulatory Capture).

200-Proof Liberals

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Family Inequality

by Philip N. Cohen

What Paul Gregory is Writing About

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Kids Prefer Cheese

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Offsetting Behaviour

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

single sex spaces

Single sex spaces are a question of consent

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

Tudor History from the Wars of the Roses to the Death of Elizabeth I

Weapons and Warfare

History and Hardware of Warfare

TannerOnPolicy

Politics and Policy with a Libertarian Twist

Notes On Liberty

Spontaneous thoughts on a humble creed

Map Dragons

Written by map lovers for map lovers

CONVERSABLE ECONOMIST

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

American Enterprise Institute – AEI

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Catallaxy Files

Australia's leading libertarian and centre-right blog

Books & Boots

reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The Long Run

the EHS blog

Vincent Geloso

Economics, History, Lots of Data and French Stuff

Climatism

Tracking Anthropogenic Climate Alarmism

Science Matters

Reading between the lines, and underneath the hype.

Point of Order

Politics and the economy

%d bloggers like this: