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  • Educatión, instituciones y empresa: los determinantes del espíritu empresarial
  • Javier Vidal Olivares
Gabriel Tortella, José Luis García Ruiz, José María Ortiz-Villajos López, and María Gloria Quiroga Valle, eds. Educación, instituciones y empresa: los determinantes del espíritu empresarial. Madrid: Academia Europea de Ciencias y Artes, 2009. 261 pp. ISBN 978-84-612-8173-2, €14.89 (paperback).

Business history is a burgeoning area of research in Spain. Recent studies have focused on companies from the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors. Regarding the service sector, these studies have focused on marketing strategy, internal organization, international expansion, corporate policy, and organization of labor. However, little has been written about the origin, extent, and evolution of entrepreneurial spirit or business initiative in Spain or the role of education in this process. To put it in another way, very little attention has been paid to the obstacles that have prevented the Spanish economy from enjoying the benefits of having more and better entrepreneurs.

The collection of essays edited by Gabriel Tortella, José Luis García Ruiz, José María Ortiz-Villajos López, and María Gloria Quiroga Valle deals with this crucial aspect of Spain's business and economic history. The essays published in this collection are part of a larger research project led by Tortella and funded by the Spanish branch of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. The book begins with an extraordinarily stimulating analysis by Tortella and Quiroga (in collaboration with I. Moral), who do a comparative analysis of Spanish and English businessmen of the twentieth century and find a strong statistical correlation between higher education and the development of entrepreneurial capabilities. The authors find how the quantity and quality of education to create human capital is crucial to generate more entrepreneurs with a greater desire to create, innovate, and start up their own businesses. In this respect, the comparative data used by the authors provide us with an important finding: the higher the level of education in a context of advanced economic development, the greater the degree of sectoral specialization among entrepreneurs. This finding reveals the importance of education not only in the early stages of economic development, but also, and above all, in the most advanced stages. Sectoral specialization generates greater capacity for adaptation to change, especially during periods of change or transition.

In the essay, García Ruiz creates an indicator of entrepreneurship by analyzing some key variables of the Spanish economy from 1964. [End Page 196] García Ruiz obtains his entrepreneurship indicator by finding the correlation between business start-ups and the following variables: population, per capita income, number of patents and population (as a proxy for technological innovation), funding difficulties for startup businesses, unemployment rates (which he also uses to measure levels of self-employment), and education. His correlation analyses lead to several interesting conclusions: First, there has been a considerable increase in the number of businesses in Spain, especially since 1980, but their average capital has significantly decreased over time. This is the logical consequence of the overwhelming predominance of small and medium-size enterprises in Spain. García Ruiz also shows a clear predominance of self-employment, which is a clear indicator of greater entrepreneurial capacity. The author also shows a weak correlation between technological innovation and start-up capacity, but a strong one between availability of financial resources and unemployment for the creation of new businesses. Moreover, the author also finds a positive correlation between level of education and entrepreneurial initiative, especially when measured by higher education. For this finding, García Ruiz also analyzes the Working Population Survey for the years between 1964 and 2004, to reinforce his argument that the availability of entrepreneurs is heavily dependent on the historically attained levels of formal education and training.

The essay by José María Ortiz tackles the subject of technological innovation as a crucial aspect of business competitiveness and as an indicator of Spanish companies' capacity to innovate or adapt. He starts his essay by highlighting the important role the Spanish government played as an investor in research and development (R&D), particularly in the second half of the twentieth...


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