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Meet the editor of… Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

An interview with: Noel D. Campbell

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Noel D. Campbell is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Central Arkansas. He holds a BS degree in economics (Texas A&M University, 1992), and MA and Ph.D. degrees in economics (George Mason University, 1995, 1997). He is the founding editor of the Journal of Entrepreneurship & Public Policy.

He has published more than forty research articles in journals including the Economic Development Quarterly, Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, Journal of Private Enterprise, Journal of Small Business Management, Journal of Small Business Strategy, and the Review of Austrian Economics. His training is in public finance and public choice economics, but his interest is in the intersection of the public sector and entrepreneurship. He enjoys motorcycles and is active in animal rescue organizations.

Institutions – especially public policies – are a significant determinant of economic outcomes; entrepreneurship and enterprise development are often the channel by which public policies affect economic outcomes, and by which outcomes feed back to the policy process. The Journal of Entrepreneurship & Public Policy (JEPP) was created to encourage and disseminate quality research about these vital relationships. The ultimate aim is to improve the quality of the political discourse about entrepreneurship and development policies. JEPP seeks high-quality articles that say something interesting about the relationships among public policy and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship and economic development, or all three areas.

About entrepreneurship and public policy:

How does public policy impact on entrepreneurship?

Allow me to be a little round-about. A person isn’t "an entrepreneur." Entrepreneurship isn’t a function. Entrepreneurship is a behaviour; a mode of human operation. People behave entrepreneurially in every facet of their lives – in our personal lives, in our business and economic lives, and in our political and governmental lives. Entrepreneurship is about someone seeing and choosing to follow a path of change that leads to a desired goal, a path the rest of us either don’t see or balk at following. The other thing about people is that we are, basically – in the broadest sense – rational. We tend to do more of the activities which give us a reward, and do less of the activities which impose a cost upon us. When faced with a variety of options, we tend to choose the path that we expect to give us the most gain, given the cost. OK, so, what happens in our political and governmental lives – the rules and structures of government and the policies that emerge from the political process – have a large impact on the benefits, costs, and opportunities available to entrepreneurs. These impacts are both intended and unintended!

On the other side of the coin, entrepreneurship is the driving engine of change and development in an economy. As economic reality changes, government and policies change, too. Entrepreneurs explicitly and implicitly drive change in government and government policy. On the third side of the coin – we have a rare three-sided coin! – individuals independently act entrepreneurially to pursue their own goals within political and governmental life, creating an independent source of change in the conditions of both governments and markets.

That’s my answer. It’s not direct or concrete, but I think this whole process is fascinating and exciting to watch and study. In the end, it’s the study of our lives as human beings living in society. Although I answered very abstractly and theoretically, every one of us lives the entirety of his or her life in the world I just described. What people researching entrepreneurship and public policy learn can be directly significant in someone’s life.

How did you become involved in the field of entrepreneurship and public policy?

Earlier in my career, I spent several years at an institution where I was "the" economist. I wanted to establish my career as a researcher, and, by personality, I work better with a co-author than as a solo author. In practical terms, that meant writing with someone outside my field. The common area I found with my colleagues was entrepreneurship. I’m an economist, through-and-through, and my first interest is in how the worlds of markets and politics interact and influence each other. However, I had always had an interest in entrepreneurship, but it was a theoretical interest, "from 40,000 feet." I had already written about people behaving in a recognizably entrepreneurial manner in political activities. Co-authoring with management and marketing colleagues on entrepreneurship was the best idea I had at that time. Once I started researching with my friends, everyone was – I think – amazed. We were talking about the same things, but we thought so differently, and asked different questions, and used different empirical techniques. Thankfully, I recognized this as an opportunity not only to learn from other people, but also to teach them about economists’ views on these matters.

It was also this time that I came to fully understand and deeply believe that entrepreneurial activity in markets is the driving engine of all economic growth, especially in countries on the intensive margin of growth; furthermore, that economic growth was not just about "getting richer," but was about empowering people to live better lives, as they define that themselves. The third idea I came to "own" over this period was that governments and their policies could dramatically change the incentives facing innovators and entrepreneurs. Put those ideas together with an eclectic, interdisciplinary approach, and you’ve got JEPP.

I consciously planned to research governments and markets. I never consciously planned to become an entrepreneurship researcher. You might say entrepreneurship research found me. But it’s been a fun trip, and it’s not one I’m ready to end yet.

How will the journal benefit from being associated with USASBE and its potential new SIG on public policy?

How will the journal not benefit from an association with USASBE? At the moment, USASBE is taking a gamble on JEPP, and we are getting a "free ride" on USASBE’s human capital and network capital. I’m very grateful for this opportunity. But beyond gratitude, I am determined to ensure that USASBE’s gamble pays a nice dividend to the organization and – especially – to its members. I’m convinced that USASBE’s members have papers and ideas just sort of gathering dust for want of a really comfortable "fit" at a journal. I think JEPP can be that comfortable fit for many papers. With Emerald’s muscle behind us, those papers could go on to have a wide reach. I also think JEPP, myself, and the rest of the editorial team could become "two-way" ambassadors, bringing USASBE to a wider audience of economists and other social scientists, but also bringing those economists and social scientists to USASBE members’ attention.

About the journal

What are the objectives the journal aims to achieve?

The Journal of Entrepreneurship & Public Policy (JEPP) was created to encourage and disseminate quality research about the important relationships and feedback loops relating entrepreneurship and public policies. JEPP seeks high-quality articles that say something interesting about the relationships among public policy and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship and economic development, or all three areas. Specifically, JEPP seeks empirically oriented academic papers and accepts a wide variety of empirical evidence, such as statistical analyses, case or historical studies, and survey, experimental, or computational methods; although JEPP will consider conceptual or theoretical papers that indicate a direction for future research, or otherwise advance the field of study. Topics of interest would include (but not be limited to):

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Public policy
  • Public policies and behaviour of economic agents
  • Interjurisdictional differentials and their effects
  • New firms; start-ups
  • Microeconomic analyses of economic development
  • Development planning and policy
  • Innovation and invention: processes and incentives
  • Regional economic activity: growth, development, and changes
  • Regional development policy.

What can readers expect from the first issue?

Life-changing, mind-blowing greatness, that’s what readers can expect from the first – and every subsequent – issue! Seriously, the first issue is turning out to be far better and more significant than I had any business expecting it to be. It also shows the interdisciplinary breadth and eclecticism I hoped for in the journal. The first issue includes my introductory editorial. Jeff Cornwall and Denny Dennis contributed a great piece on how public policy influences market entrepreneurship, and why and how public policy ought to be part of entrepreneurship education. Rising researchers Chris Coyne and Claudia Williamson contributed an interesting piece studying how trade openness increases a culture’s exposure to alternative attitudes, beliefs, ideas, and values. The more open a country is to trade, the more likely it is to possess culture conducive to economic interaction and entrepreneurship. Bell, Hendon, Blair and Martin wrote a very direct article about how state-funded angel investor tax credits vary across U.S. states, and how this affects the effectiveness of angel investing. Chrisman, McMullen, Ring, and Holt contributed an enlightening article about the differential impact of entrepreneurship counselling assistance and entrepreneurship education. The effects are quite different! Newcomer Diana Thomas and Invisible Hook author Peter Leeson sent a great historical study on entrepreneurial activity, and the de-regulation and subsequent re-regulation of the brewing industry in Bavaria from the High Middle Ages through the Renaissance. So, as to the issue overall? As Alka-Seltzer used to say, "Try it, you’ll like it!"

Being an editor

What motivates you to be the editor of this journal?

It’s simple enough. I want to be the first guy to read a bunch of new, interesting research. I love being part of people’s research and publishing processes; the more the merrier. Also, I choose to work at a teaching school. By birth and by choice, I’m from the American South. Put together, these mean that I’ve got an evangelism streak in me. Entrepreneurship, governments, and markets: nothing else is more important in determining the quality of human life. I want to know how it all works, and I want to tell everyone about it.

What made you want to start an academic journal?

By good luck and by choice, I’ve found myself among many different groups: economists, political scientists, regional developers, public administrators, management researchers, marketing researchers, entrepreneurship educators, "think tank" analysts, public officials, innovators, business owners, and entrepreneurs. I’ve enjoyed learning from them all, and I’ve realized how many people across all those groups have the same basic interests: how can people make their lives better? I’ve been fortunate to observe overlapping and tangent answers coming from all of these groups of friends. I began to wonder if I could play a role in pulling some of these strands together and sharing the knowledge. I thought that there might be room for another academic journal to do just that. JEPP is a way for me to get to read, learn from, participate in, provide a home for, and share with others a lot of deeply cool, fun, and interesting research and discoveries. Who could turn that down? I couldn’t.

Publisher's note

Professor Noel D. Campbell was interviewed in December 2011.

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