The Primacy of Entrepreneurs in Exploiting Long-Distance Exchange


Economic Science Institute, Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866, USA. E-mail:


Using data from a relatively open-ended laboratory experiment on local and distal trade, we organize our subjects' actions to understand the common processes of what makes the rich economies rich and the poor economies poor. More specifically, we report a narrative economic history for half of our experimental sessions in which we highlight how entrepreneurial temperaments, individual instincts, and cultural awareness of welfare-improving opportunities generate or fail to generate wealth through specialization and exchange. We find that in the wealthy economies successful entrepreneurs are persistent and vocal in emphasizing the prospect of mutual benefits to their fellow virtual villagers. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.