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Entrepreneurship and the construction of value in biotechnology

Technology and Organization: Essays in Honour of Joan Woodward

ISBN: 978-1-84950-984-8, eISBN: 978-1-84950-985-5

Publication date: 8 July 2010


By taking conventionalist view of the evolution of biotechnology, we suggest that the process by which entrepreneurs determined what made biotechnology valuable and figured out how to organize around such an economic logic was contested. The shape that biotechnology has ultimately taken emerged from the resolution of these contests. Convention theory – as elaborated in Boltanski and Thévenot's (2006) On Justification 1 – argues that our economy is shaped by participants affecting the rules of economic action. Whereas most economists would argue that the assignment of value underpins any system of exchange, conventionalists suggest that this value is not only given by the principles of optimization but instead can be derived from many possible spheres such as civic duty, attainment of fame, proof of technologic performance, and demonstration of creativity. More specifically, Boltanski and Thévenot (2006, p. 43) claim that the establishment of a particular logic “comes about as a part of a coordinated process that relies on two supports: a common identification of market goods, whose exchange defines the course of action, and a common evaluation of these objects in terms of prices that make it possible to adjust various actions.” Simply put, economic logics embody principles of economic coordination or conventions that guide interpretation of the technology and its value.


Kaplan, S. and Murray, F. (2010), "Entrepreneurship and the construction of value in biotechnology", Phillips, N., Sewell, G. and Griffiths, D. (Ed.) Technology and Organization: Essays in Honour of Joan Woodward (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 29), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 107-147.



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