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The liberating power of entrepreneurship in ancient Athens

  • George C. Bitros

    (Athens University of Economics & Business)

  • Anastassios D. Karayiannis

    (University of Piraeus)

Our objectives in this paper are threefold. First, we identify the nature of entrepreneurial climate in ancient Athens. Drawing on the analyses of Athenian writers we argue that, although philosophers, politicians, and generals enjoyed greater civil and social status relative to those pursuing wealth-creating activities, ancient Athenians were not negative to efforts at making “moderate” profits that were used also for promoting the well being of the city. Second, we inquire if and to what extent the city-state of Athens (mainly during the 5th century BC) had an active policy for encouraging metics (i.e. resident aliens) and slaves to assimilate into the Athenian society through success in business. And, finally, we characterise the degree to which metics and slaves were able to take advantage of the prevailing institutional set- up in order to achieve social advancement and individual liberty. Our main conclusion is that in ancient Athens there operated a system of economic and social incentives that had been deliberately designed to promote entrepreneurial activities.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/mhet/papers/0411/0411004.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Method and Hist of Econ Thought with number 0411004.

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Length: 15 pages
Date of creation: 22 Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmh:0411004
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 15
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Link, Albert N, 1980. "Firm Size and Efficient Entrepreneurial Activity: A Reformulation of the Schumpeter Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(4), pages 771-82, August.
  2. Eliasson, Gunnar, 1984. "Micro heterogeneity of firms and the stability of industrial growth," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(3-4), pages 249-274.
  3. Rosen, Sherwin & Nadiri, M Ishaq, 1974. "A Disequilibrium Model of Demand for Factors of Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(2), pages 264-70, May.
  4. Acs, Zoltan J & Audretsch, David B, 1987. "Innovation, Market Structure, and Firm Size," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(4), pages 567-74, November.
  5. Schultz, Theodore W, 1975. "The Value of the Ability to Deal with Disequilibria," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 827-46, September.
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