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Andrew Carnegie and the foundations of contemporary entrepreneurial philanthropy

Harvey, Charles and MacLean, Mairi and Gordon, Jillian and Shaw, Eleanor (2011) Andrew Carnegie and the foundations of contemporary entrepreneurial philanthropy. Business History, 53 (3). pp. 425-450. ISSN 0007-6791

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Abstract

This paper focuses upon the relationship between the business and philanthropic endeavours of world-making entrepreneurs; asking why, how and to what ends these individuals seek to extend their reach in society beyond business. It presents an original model of entrepreneurial philanthropy which demonstrates how investment in philanthropic projects can yield positive returns in cultural, social and symbolic capital, which in turn may lead to growth in economic capital. The model is applied to interpret and make sense of the career of Andrew Carnegie, whose story, far from reducing to one of making a fortune then giving it away, is revealed as more complex and more unified. His philanthropy raised his stock within the field of power, helping convert surplus funds into social networks, high social standing and intellectual currency, enabling him to engage in world making on a grand scale.