Cultural entrepreneurs and the origins of modern economic growth

Joel Mokyr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The concept of entrepreneur is a central one in economic history. The definition of entrepreneur is extended here to include 'cultural entrepreneurs' and show how they can be integrated into the new modern economic interpretation of 'culture' as agents who change the beliefs of others. This concept can help us understand one of the central dilemmas of modern economic history, namely how the new institutional economic history can be deployed to understand modern economic growth. Cultural changes in the early modern age led to institutional changes that made Europe more friendly to innovation. In that process, two English figures can be seen as central, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. The essay shows how they meet the definition of a cultural entrepreneur and how their work coordinated and focused cultural change that was instrumental in preparing the ground for the Industrial Revolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
JournalScandinavian Economic History Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Industrial Revolution
  • entrepreneurship
  • institutional economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • History


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