Ross B. Emmett


This Article explores Knight’s theory of the entrepreneurial function in the modern enterprise in two contexts. The first is Berle and Means’s arguments, in which I offer a reconstruction of Knight that responds to the argument in The Modern Corporation regarding both the corporate separation of ownership and control, and the potential for industrial policy to promote the social interest. The second context I use to explore Knight’s understanding of entrepreneurship is his later arguments regarding the problem of intelligent control in a democratic society. From the 1930s to the end of his life in the early 1970s, Knight increasingly focused on the nature of a free, democratic society and the attendant problems for a social science that wishes to inform democratic action. While it is convenient to divide his life’s work into two parts—the first focused on economic theory (ending in the early 1940s) and the second on social philosophy—the two are connected by a conception of human and social action in the midst of uncertainty that runs from Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit to Knight’s last book, Intelligence and Democratic Action.