an important work of economic and social theory by Adam Smith, published in 1776. Its full title was Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. In it he analysed the relationship between work and the production of a nation's wealth. His conclusion was that the best economic situation results from encouraging free enterprise (= an economic system in which there is open competition in business and trade, and no government control). This idea has had a great influence on economic theories since and it formed the basis of the economic policies of the Conservative government in Britain in the 1980s.