Historical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy

Charles Harvey, Mairi Maclean, Roy Suddaby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)
435 Downloads (Pure)


How, why and with what consequences do entrepreneurs engage in philanthropy? This is the focal question of this special issue, and one that has yet to be satisfactorily answered in the literature on philanthropy. We propose that historical research has an important role to play in understanding the motives, methods, rewards, achievements and limitations of twenty-first century philanthropy, commonly identified with aspirational economic and social initiatives led by super-rich entrepreneurs and wealthy philanthropic foundations. History enables us to challenge received ideas by developing a richer, fuller and more nuanced understanding of the origins and evolution of now dominant philanthropic ideas, institutions, organizations and practices. The four articles selected for publication are exemplary in this respect. To establish a fitting context, we first survey the philanthropic landscape from a systemic standpoint, and, based on our own longue durée research findings, offer a number of historical perspectives on entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)443-471
Number of pages29
JournalBusiness History Review
Issue number3
Early online date11 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2019


  • Charitable giving
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Foundations
  • Historical organization studies
  • Philanthropy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • History


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