The Entrepreneurial State

Mariana Mazzucato
Work package: 
WP 2
Publication number: 
01 July 2011

Abstract: The prevailing opinion on public spending is that the state must be cut back to make room for entrepreneurship and innovation, to prevent the public sector ‘crowding out’ the private sector. This draws on the belief that the private sector is dynamic, innovative and competitive, in contrast to the sluggish and bureaucratic public sector.

The Entrepreneurial State challenges this minimalist view of economic policy. It finds that successful economies result from government doing more than just creating the right conditions for growth. Instead, government has a key role to play in developing new technologies whose potential is not yet understood by the business community. State-funded organisations can be nimble and innovative, transforming economies forever — the algorithm behind Google was funded by a public sector National Science Foundation grant.

This paper forces the debate to go beyond the role of the state in stimulating demand, or crudely ‘picking winners’ in industrial policy. Instead, it argues for a proactive, entrepreneurial state: a state that is able to take risks and harness the best of the private sector. It imagines the state as a catalyst, sparking the initial reaction that will cause innovation to spread.

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