Market Entrepreneurship, Political Entrepreneurship, and the Silver Line Metrorail Project

Timothy Cox

Advisor: Richard E Wagner, PhD, Department of Economics

Committee Members: Peter J Boettke, Bryan Caplan

Online Location, Online
November 13, 2020, 01:00 PM to 03:00 PM


This dissertation develops a theory of political entrepreneurship based on the work of Frank Knight and Richard Wagner. The work contributes to a single unified rational choice theory in which behavior in market and political settings are considered as special cases of a general theory. Chapter 1 defines political entrepreneurship as the investment of private or public resources to plan, seek approval for, and operate political exchanges. Chapters 2 and 3 develop the theory by analyzing how the institutions of market and political exchange structure entrepreneurial behavior with respect to sorting individuals into economic roles, self-investment and saving, ownership, internal governance of organizations, production, and competition. Chapter 4 applies the theory in a case study of the Silver Line Metrorail project that analyzes the competition over entrepreneurial plans that was conducted through study groups and other platforms as well as a parallel competition over the project’s financing arrangements. Chapter 5 presents a cost-benefit analysis of the project and analyzes the evolution of cost and ridership estimates as the project proceeded from planning through design and construction.