Fast breeder reactor technology and the entrepreneurial state in the UK

Niall Makenzie (Lead / Corresponding author), Stephen Knox, Matthew Hannon

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This article explores the creation, operation and failure of the UK’s fast breeder reactor programme at Dounreay within the context of the development of the nuclear power industry in the UK, and the administration of national and regional economic policy. The UK government maintained total control of the development of the technology including its creation, operation, and attempts at exploitation, corresponding closely to existing definitions of entrepreneurship. We thus argue that the case of fast breeder reactor technology in the UK should be considered as both an example of Mazzucato’s characterisation of the state as an entrepreneur and an explanation why it has 'forgotten' how to be entrepreneurial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1494-1509
Number of pages16
JournalBusiness History
Issue number8
Early online date3 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • entrepreneurial state
  • fast breeder reactor
  • nuclear power
  • regional development
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • History


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