Kurgan-van Hentenryk Chair in Business History International Workshop:The Entrepreneurial State and the Innovative Enterprise

Monday 8 May 2017

Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)


The Kurgan-van Hentenryk Chair in Business History of the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (Université Libre de Bruxelles), which has been launched in 2015, aims at advancing and diffusing research in the field of business history, with a special emphasis on the history of the knowledge economy.

It is widely accepted that the power of entrepreneurship and innovation lies in the private sector and that the state has to be cut back from the process in order to permit a burst of innovation and growth. Conversely, the reduction in the size of the state could translate into weak and non-ambitious economic policy that can damage the sources for innovation, greatly reducing the potential growth. However, another stream of research has recently challenged this dominant view by arguing that states could be leading drivers of innovation, especially when it comes to fund the most uncertain phases of R&D that the private sector may be too risk-averse to engage.

The Kurgan-van Hentenryk Chair in Business History tackles this debate in its First International Workshop focusing on the connections that already exist between present and past business developments, on the one hand, and innovation studies, on the other hand. Concepts such as ‘innovation system’ or ‘learning region’ are closely related to historical studies and analyse long- or medium term processes which have a historical dimension.

The workshop aims at bringing together outstanding scholars with economic policy advisers and business leaders in order to create a stimulating and intellectually challenging environment that explore the ongoing interactions of the “entrepreneurial state” and the “innovative enterprise”. The morning session will be devoted to keynote lectures given by Prof. William Lazonick (University of Massachusetts-Lowell) and Prof. David Edgerton (King’s College London). The afternoon session will program a roundtable mixing scholars, EU Commission experts, investors, and business leaders. The focus will be on current debates in entrepreneurship and innovation.

Workshop attendance is free of charge but registration is kindly requested by email at: Tomas.Fernandez.De.Sevilla@ulb.ac.be



Workshop Programme


Salle Dupréel, Campus Solbosch, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium

44 avenue Jeanne – 1050 Brussels


Monday 8 May 2017


9:00                 Registration

9:30                 Welcome address by Pierre Gurdjian, Chairman of the Board, Université Libre de Bruxelles

9:40                 Workshop Introduction: Bruno van Pottelsberghe, Dean of the Solvay Brussels School of Economics                        and Management (ULB)

9:50                 Kurgan-van Hentenryk Chair Presentation: Kenneth Bertrams (ULB)

10:00               Keynote (I): William Lazonick (University of Massachusetts-Lowell): “Innovative Enterprise or                                    Sweatshop Economics? In Search of Foundations of Economic Analysis”

10:45               Q&A

11:00               Coffee break

11:15               Keynote (II): David Edgerton (King’s College London): “The British entrepreneurial state 1945 - 1979:                          too much of a good thing?”

12:00               Q&A

12:15               Lunch break

14:00               Roundtable: The entrepreneurial state and the innovative enterprise

Introduction: Mathias Dewatripont (Executive Director National Bank of Belgium, Professor of Economics at ULB)

Participants: Claire Bury (Deputy-Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology [DG Connect]); John Taysom (Board Director Privitar, Visiting Professor UCL, Policy Fellow U. Cambridge); Frédéric Destin (General Partner Accel Ventures); William Lazonick (University of Massachusetts-Lowell)

16:30               Concluding remarks

16:45               Cocktail

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