How can one reconcile individual initiative and a changing economic environment, which is increasingly structured by big firms? This paper will show that the contractor, far from being a natural agent of capitalism is a social product designed to legitimize the European liberal economic theory.
In Europe, liberal economists (R. Cantillon, JB Say and Schumpeter) argue that the entrepreneur is the engine of the economy. This view is criticized by economists influenced by the Marxist approach, which highlights the overall logic of capitalist development, characterized by the emergence and dominance of large firms. This phenomenon illustrates the process of socialization of capitalist production (intensification of trade exchanges, generalization of the division of labor, the socialization of capital of companies). In a context of deepening and broadening socialization production, what is the role of the contractor?
The heroic entrepreneur gave way to the socialized entrepreneur, as part of the pre-existing economic structures of capitalism. In Asia, the criticism of the entrepreneur is rooted in the Confucian tradition. In societies organized along collectivist principles, the merchant is criticized for his individualism. The bad image of the entrepreneur is maintained for industrialization, largely driven by the state. The entrepreneurs appear mainly as committed public servants.
It is only since the 1980s that the contractor has taken root in Asian thought. The stranglehold of the state is widely criticized by liberal economists, who argue that Asian economies suffer from many shortcomings, which would not exist if more room was made for individual initiative. In fact, large groups, not the contractor, are the cause of Asian economic prosperity. At the outset, the private conglomerates are the privileged partners of officials seeking to boost industrialization. However, despite the concentrated structure of Asian economies, the entrepreneur emerges in a form that a socialized crisis requires.
This work is part of a question: how to explain the Asian growth since the aftermath of World War II, from India to China via Japan and South Korea? Everywhere there is a rapid development of industrial capacity, while some leading figures of Asian capitalism personified the success of industrialization: the founders of large family groups that are the backbone of Indian economy, Korean, and Japanese (until the Second World War in the latter’s case).
Under these conditions, one is tempted to make the connection between the history of American capitalism and the history of Asian capitalism: in one case as in the other, how could one not attribute the successes achieved by industrial countries, in the late 19th and early 20th century, the heroic individuals who, through their power of initiative would only have managed to build industrial empires in the energy, steel, transport by rail. The analogy ends there.
Indeed, the history of thought and Asian economic facts provide strong leads to question the explanations offered above, while it grows to question what is the contractor. Now the contractor is used by the proponents of liberal discourse that use it as a polemical argument against their political enemies.
According to preliminary, it is essential that an economy is entrepreneurial in order to be successful. No other type of organization can lead to a satisfactory economic performance. Each economy, including Asia, tries to make its leading figures, acting like so many social models for driving the economy towards the expansion.
Tags: meaning of contractor; Asian industrialization; economy; entrepreneurial economy
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