Research Update: Entrepreneurship & American Exceptionalism

I have spent the last month going deeper into the concept of American Exceptionalism and also reading more commentators on Turner. I am just about done with a The End of American Exceptionalism by David Wrobel.

The book looks into the era surrounding Turner’s development of and presentation of his Frontier Thesis. The end of the frontier was the end of a 300 year period of expansion and Turner was not the only person concerned with what it meant. From sociologists and politicians to economists and media outlets, the end of the American frontier received great amounts of investigation.

Beyond the academics and policy makers thinking, speaking, and writing on the ‘end of the frontier’, much of the American public reacted to this fundamental shift in America’s development and also its view of itself and its uniqueness. From calls for expansion abroad to demand for Western novels and art, the ‘frontier anxiety’ was real for decades after Turners presentation at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Il.

Campus as New Frontier for Entrepreneurs

Earlier this year, Zoltan and I were discussing a possible paper for me to write as part of a ‘directed reading.’ Over time Zoltan recommended that I look into Frederick Jackson Turner’s The Significance of the Frontier in American History. Turner argues it is the frontier experience, rather than European influence, that led to the development of America’s unique political, social and economic systems.

I am in the midst of finishing the draft of a paper in which I use Turner’s frontier attributes/frameworks to analyze the university/college campus environment from an entrepreneurial perspective. Found the money quote below while reading through the 1921 book edition of his thesis.

The pioneer was taught in the school of experience that the crops of one area would not do for a new frontier; that the scythe of the clearing must be replaced by the reaper of the prairies. He was forced to make old tools serve new uses; to shape former habits, institutions and ideas to changed conditions; and to find new means when the old proved inapplicable. He was building a new society as well as breaking new soil; he had the ideal of nonconformity and of change. He rebelled against the conventional.

Besides the ideals of conquest and of discovery, the pioneer had the ideal of personal development, free from social and governmental constraint.

More to come on this subject as I flesh out the paper over the next week or so, but this sounds like a lot of campus entrepreneurs. Especially the newer wave of social entrepreneurs.