Historical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy




Harvey, Charles
Maclean, Mairi
Suddaby, Roy

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Business History Review


We define philanthropy as voluntary giving by households or corporate bodies to promote charitable causes, projects, and organizations or, alternatively, as “voluntary action for the public good.” Entrepreneurial philanthropy refers specifically to “the pursuit by entrepreneurs on a not-for-profit basis of big social objectives through active investment of their economic, cultural, social and symbolic resources.” Government projects financed by taxation and interfamily resource transfers are never philanthropic. Gifts only qualify as philanthropic when the donor is under no compulsion to give, when the gift benefits people with whom the donor is not directly connected, when the gift is made from the donor's own resources, and when the donor receives no direct economic benefit as a consequence of making the gift. In other words, philanthropists invest their own resources in causes they believe will benefit others and that yield no direct benefit to themselves or their families.




Harvey, C., Maclean, M., & Suddaby, R. (2019). Historical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy. Business History Review, 93(3), pp. 443-471. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007680519000953