Founded in fall 2016, the Institute for an Entrepreneurial Society (IES) is a research institute housed in the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. IES provides Ph.D. training, academic research, and broader impacts through policy analysis and public outreach.

Social problems reduce human well-being. Their solution is often sought in “best practices.” But needs, resources, and conditions vary across people and places. Best practices rarely respond to these differences and often produce poor outcomes. IES scholars offer entrepreneurial solutions to complex and difficult social problems such as homelessness, wildfires, and crime.

Recent best practice in homelessness, for example, puts the homeless straight into permanent housing rather than gradually moving them from shelters to halfway houses to permanent housing. While that “best practice” works for certain individuals in some large cities like New York City, IES researchers have shown that it does not work well in rural settings and smaller cities. One size does not fit all.

Similarly, IES researchers have shown that in Northern California, communities that initiate measures against wildfires in cooperation with state authorities have had better outcomes than those that rely only on themselves or only on the state government. Solutions should be linked to sources of knowledge.

Effective solutions come from flexible, entrepreneurial policies that enable local communities to experiment, gather feedback, and adapt. IES identifies policies and institutions that empower entrepreneurs and communities to act on their knowledge, whether their own or in cooperation with higher authorities such as the state or the federal government. IES researchers provide entrepreneurial solutions to social problems.

IES’s mission is to produce high-quality evidence-based research on the political economy of entrepreneurship, educate future thought leaders in the field, and engage the academic community in explorations of the entrepreneurial society. IES scholars examine the institutions that foster societal well-being and promote productive entrepreneurship.

IES envisions an entrepreneurial society in which the market process generates innovation, opportunities and economic growth, as well as a society in which entrepreneurial innovation is supported by institutions that unleash human creativity and productivity.

By cultivating people motivated to explore the characteristics that contribute to an entrepreneurial society and offering a venue in which those ideas are shared and promulgated, IES informs the future direction of scientific, social and policy thinking.