Andrew Carnegie and the foundations of contemporary entrepreneurial philanthropy

Charles Harvey, Mairi Maclean, Jillian Gordon, Eleanor Shaw

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This paper focuses upon the relationship between the business and philanthropic endeavours of world-making entrepreneurs; asking why, how and to what ends these individuals seek to extend their reach in society beyond business. It presents an original model of entrepreneurial philanthropy which demonstrates how investment in philanthropic projects can yield positive returns in cultural, social and symbolic capital, which in turn may lead to growth in economic capital. The model is applied to interpret and make sense of the career of Andrew Carnegie, whose story, far from reducing to one of making a fortune then giving it away, is revealed as more complex and more unified. His philanthropy raised his stock within the field of power, helping convert surplus funds into social networks, high social standing and intellectual currency, enabling him to engage in world making on a grand scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-450
Number of pages26
JournalBusiness History
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Capital theory
  • Carnegie
  • Entrepreneurial philanthropy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Field of power
  • Social networks


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