Jean-Baptiste Say and the Entrepreneur: The Question of Filiation with Cantillon and Turgot

By Joël Thomas Ravix


Since Schumpeter, there has been a tradition in the history of the economic thought that has placed Say’s entrepreneur in a Cantillon-Turgot filiation. The aim of this article is to show that this filiation does not exist, even if certain themes such as risk, knowledge, or organization of production appear in the works of these three authors. More precisely, it is possible to identify a double-break between Say and his predecessors. The first is in the analysis of production and division of labor, which shows that Say’s entrepreneur does not have the same role as Turgot’s. The second concerns conceptions of uncertainty and profit, which show that the place of the entrepreneur in the distribution of income for Say is not the same as for Cantillon or Turgot. The implications of this double-break are specified in the conclusion. JEL Codes : B12, B13, L26


  • entrepreneur
  • Say
  • filiation Cantillon-Turgot
  • production
  • uncertainty
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