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Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008

David B. Audretsch

Distinguished Professor

Ameritech Chair of Economic Development
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1998
B.A., Drew University, 1976
M.S., University of Wisconsin, 1979
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1980
Honorary Doctorate, University of Augsburg, 2008

"David is one of the most imaginative and influential scholars in the broad area of entrepreneurship and technological change."

--Steven Klepper, Arthur Arton Hamerschlag Professor of Economics, Carnegie Mellon University

David Audretsch

David Audretsch

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It's something of an understatement to say that David Audretsch is well regarded by his peers. "Of all the scholars in the world, I know of no living scholar whose collective work has had more impact on entrepreneurship and small business research than Professor Audretsch," says Patricia P. McDougall, William L. Haeberle Professor of Entrepreneurship at IU Bloomington.

Economics experts around the world echo McDougall's praise. Audretsch is considered a leading scholar in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation -- in fact, he is credited with much of the scholarly research that serves as the field's foundation. In 1980 when he was finishing his graduate education, the literature of economics focused mainly on large corporations, neglecting to address the role of entrepreneurial activity. He set out to fill this void by subjecting the economic role of small businesses and entrepreneurship to rigorous and systematic analysis.

His research challenged the conventional wisdom of the time, which said that new and small firms were particularly inadequate to contribute to innovative activity. His studies showed that, contrary to popular belief, new and small firms actually were particularly innovative. In addition, he identified firm size and industry structure as important factors in determining why some firms and industries were more innovative than others.

"His work has helped us understand how small businesses are structured, how they behave, and how they perform," says Ronald R. Braeutigam, Kapnick Professor of Business Institutions at Northwestern University. Audretsch's 1988 article "Innovation in Large and Small Firms: An Empirical Analysis," co-authored with Zoltan J. Acs and published in American Economic Review, is considered one of the seminal works on the subject.

In his 1995 book Innovation and Industry Evolution, published with MIT Press, Audretsch expanded his research, introducing the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship. The theory suggests that entrepreneurship serves as a conduit for the spillover of knowledge from the business or university laboratory to its commercial application in the form of a new business. Most recently, in The Entrepreneurial Society, published with Oxford University Press, he used the knowledge spillover theory to analyze links between entrepreneurship and economic growth, integrating the entrepreneurial process into models of economic growth.

His influence on other scholars in the field has been well documented. According to Thomson Incites, from 1996 to 2006 he was the twenty-first most-cited scholar in the literature of economics and business. In 2007 he was named one of the 60 most influential economists of all time in the German book Die wichtigsten Wirtschaftsdenker (The Most Important Economists). He has authored or edited 30 books and countless journal articles.

Audretsch's service to his profession is equally as remarkable as his scholarly output. In 1989 he co-founded the journal Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal, and he continues to serve as its editor. In addition, he serves as a consultant and advisor to numerous governmental, nonprofit, and private organizations, such as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Audretsch has garnered significant international recognition for his work. In 2001 he and frequent collaborator Zoltan J. Acs received the International Award for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Research, a $50,000 prize, from the Swedish Foundation for Small Business Research. In 2003 he accepted an invitation to become director of the Research Department on Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Public Policy at the prestigious Max Planck Institute of Economics in Jena, Germany. He also holds affiliated positions at universities in Australia, England, and Germany. In 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Augsburg.

Given his many groundbreaking accomplishments, it might be fair to say that Audretsch has revolutionized the study of economics. "David Audretsch is perhaps the most prolific scholar in his field," says Magnus Henrekson, Jacob Wallenberg Professor of Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics in Stockholm, Sweden. "However, in addition to being prolific, his research has been highly innovative and has made a profound impact on the field—and in fact has been instrumental in creating a new field."