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Celebrating 100(and some) Years of Creative Destruction November 22, 2009

Posted by milimittal in Prophet of Innovation.

Many of us in the U.S. do not know who Joseph Schumpeter was (I didn’t, anyway). And yet, so many of us (especially here at Haas) are indebted to the man’s life work. I might go so far as to  say that we could call Schumpeter the father of the “Berkeley Difference.”  As an aspiring entrepreneur, I feel a personal sense of gratitude to this man, who, born 100 years before me, put the concept of entrepreneurship (derived from the German word for undertaker) on the map.

Joseph Schumpeter was many things in his life ~ a lover, an economist, an adventurer, a professor, a banker, a minister of finance, a widower, a womanizer, an arrogant bon vivant, and much more. Perhaps his most recognized contribution was his observation that entrepreneurial spirit and drive are the anchors of innovation, which he believed in turn was the anchor of capitalism. Though this theory of creative destruction is now common parlance at Haas and across the business world, it took him a lifetime to discover. Schumpeter describes the spirit of entrepreneurs:

Then there is the will to conquer: the impulse to fight, to prove oneself superior to others, to succeed for the sake, not of the fruits of success, but of success itself… Finally…the joy of creating…or simply of exercising one’s energy and ingenuity.

He goes on to posit that:

Almost all businesses…ultimately fail- almost always because they failed to innovate.

Heard that before, Haasies?  Yes, it’s very often said in the halls of Haas. To me, this is the very core of the Berkeley Difference, this idea of creative destruction and innovation as the center of the business and capitalist world. Thank you, Jo.



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