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About the McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

The McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth at the Baker Institute acts as a leading authority for translating academic research into actionable policy analysis and recommendations, with the goal of expanding the local and national economy through private enterprise. Based on its research, the center proposes changes to law and policy to increase the ability of Americans to earn a livelihood, create personal wealth and contribute to the larger economy by owning and growing a small business or innovative startup.

The McNair Center researches the effects of existing law and policy on private entrepreneurship and identifies best practices among governments for a vibrant small business and startup economy. The center also surveys academic research and legal scholarship for insights on problems of business, law and economics that lend themselves to public policy solutions. The center’s work focuses on five topics:

Economic Growth

Research on the role of small businesses and innovative startups in fostering economic growth, the relationship between innovation and free enterprise, and ways to improve the prospects for growth through policies that support private entrepreneurship.

Business Success

Research that identifies the qualities of firms and entrepreneurial ecosystems that succeed in creating new jobs and new wealth, the ways that government action or forbearance can promote those qualities, and the contribution of free enterprise to business success.

Government Regulation

Research and scholarship on balancing the public objectives of government regulation and the economic benefits of free enterprise. Areas of particular interest include the disproportionate impact of regulatory costs on startups and small businesses and the net benefit of removing regulatory barriers to entrepreneurial efforts.

Tax Policy

Research to identify tax policies and tax systems that promote entrepreneurship and economic growth and reduce the cost of tax compliance for small enterprises.

Economic Opportunity

Research and scholarship on the disadvantages of small businesses, relative to large businesses, in bringing about changes to law and policy or in responding to legal or regulatory action.


The McNair Center translates academic research in these areas into actionable proposals for law and public policy changes that will create a legal, economic and cultural environment beneficial to the success of small businesses, innovative startups and new technologies. 

Through policy briefs and public dialogue, the McNair Center seeks to educate policymakers and the media, as well as business and academic leaders, students and the general public, about public policies that support entrepreneurship and in turn enhance economic growth. The research of the McNair Center is nonpartisan, data-driven and policy-relevant. As part of the Baker Institute and Rice University, a 501(c)(3) organization, the McNair Center does not advocate for or against legislation or candidates for public office.

The McNair Center at the Baker Institute disseminates its research findings to McNair Centers around the country to enhance the network’s efforts to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders.