April 2024

IZA DP No. 16916: Is the Scholarly Field of Entrepreneurship at Its End?

This paper presents tentative evidence from 68,792 papers published between 1961 and 2020 that progress in the scholarly field of entrepreneurship is declining. It is found that the annual number of papers published in entrepreneurship has increased exponentially since the Second World War, growing on average by 17% annually since 1961; the average disruption score of papers have declined by a factor of 36 between the 1960s and the 2010s; and that the average team size per paper has increased from 1,6 between 1960-1980 to 2,4 between 2000 and 2020. Estimates from an ideas production function suggest that the field is getting fished out and that researchers are stepping on one another's toes. A Wald-test indicates that a structural break in the disruptiveness of entrepreneurship and business papers occurred around 1999. These results should not be taken as a negative evaluation: it may be a mark of the success of its scholars that the field is mature and degenerating. The remaining task facing the field of entrepreneurship may be how to confront its end.