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Et Jean-Baptiste Say… créa l’Entrepreneur

Préface d’André Tiran

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Edited By Société Internationale Jean-Baptiste Say

À la fin du 18 e siècle, l’initiative individuelle a été magnifiée pour permettre à l’économie de sortir de son état de passivité et de sclérose. Jean-Baptiste Say (1767–1832), économiste français et partisan de la révolution française, a produit une théorie générale de l’entrepreneur où l’innovation tient une place essentielle. L’entrepreneur peut être à la fois gestionnaire, capitaliste, innovateur. Say créa l’entrepreneur et le dota de moult charismes : esprit de conduite, génie des affaires, capacité d’entreprendre, sens du risque et d’initiative, création de valeur et d’emplois, grandes capacités gestionnaires, etc. Il s’agit d’un entrepreneur que les politiques et les « forces actuelles de marché » cherchent à ressusciter pour donner un nouveau souffle à notre économie léthargique.
Les auteurs de l’ouvrage discutent de la notion et de la fonction de l’entrepreneur dans l’œuvre de Say pour montrer son actualité économique, sociale et politique. Ils présentent aussi le contexte économique et intellectuel à partir duquel a émergé la théorie de l’entrepreneur. Entrepreneur, professeur, journaliste, lui-même, Say… créa l’entrepreneur et a légué à l’analyse (et à la philosophie) économique un « outil » de sortie de crise.
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‘He who Undertakes for his own Account, to his Profit, and at his Risks’

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Jean-Baptiste Say on Entrepreneurship

Evert SCHOORL

Former director of graduate studies Groningen University, The Netherlands

In memory of Henk Plasmeijer (May 7, 1946-Dec. 14, 2014) historian of economics, colleague, coauthor, friend

A young Journalist/Entrepreneur1

Say’s early education had qualified him for finance and entrepreneurship. At the age of seventeen, he was sent by his father to England for two years, in order to learn the language and to receive a practical business education. Back in France, he continued on this path as a junior employee in an insurance company. But the events of July 1789 would determine a decisive turn in another direction.

His company director Clavière was an active republican, who also lent the young Say his copy of the Wealth of Nations. Reading Adam Smith inspired him so much that he soon purchased his own copy, one of the fifth edition (1789). This survived in the family, full of Say’s annotations, and was donated by his grandson Léon Say to the Bibliothèque de l’Institut in Paris. The Revolution, and the milieu in which he operated, soon pulled Say away from commerce and into a job at the younger Mirabeau’s Courrier de Provence.

In 1792 a brief interruption of his career was occasioned by the first military trial of the young French republic. In order to defend his country he was enlisted in a ‘compagnie des arts’, in which he...

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