(Campus) Entrepreneurship: The Next Frontier?

Early this semester (way back in January) I met with Zoltan Acs to lay out  a directed reading (independent study) in Entrepreneurship that I am completing. Zoltan recommended that I look at Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis on the US and see if it might fit with my research on Campus Entrepreneurship

Looks like we are not the only people making use of Turner’s ideas. On May 19, Michael S. Malone wrote an Op-Ed in the WSJ titled, “The Next American Frontier.” He too was using Turner’s ideas to offer an alternative way of understanding the rise of entrepreneurship in the US. It is a great piece.

Below is excerpt from Malone, below that is a pdf version of a ppt that I presented to my other class this semester (Advanced Qualitative Methods with Janine Wedel) in mid-April.

For three centuries the frontier had defined us, tantalized us with the perpetual chance to “light out for the territories” and start our lives over. It was the foundation of those very American notions of “federalism” and “rugged individualism.” But Americans had crossed an invisible line in history, entering a new world with a new set of rules.

What Turner couldn’t guess was that the unexplored prairie would become the uninvented new product, the unexploited new market and the untried new business plan.

The great new American frontiers proved to be those of business, science and technology.

Here is the newfrontier PPT that I presented in class. (it is broader than just Turner, but he gets some coverage — his money quote below from 1893)

Since the days when the fleet of Columbus sailed into the waters of the New World, America has been another name for opportunity, and the people of the United States have taken their tone from the incessant expansion which has not only been open but has even been forced upon them. He would be a rash prophet who should assert that the expansive character of American life has now entirely ceased. Movement has been its dominant fact, and, unless this training has no effect upon a people, the American energy will continually demand a wider field for its exercise.

As my PPT highlights, I believe the campus is the new frontier for the US; the campus is continuing to be and will more and more become the locus of innovation and entrepreneurship in the US.


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