Emergence: Volume 50

Cover of Emergence

Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xi
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Abstract

In social theory, emergence is the process of novelty (1) creation, (2) growth, and (3) formation into a recognizable social object, process, or structure. Emergence is recognized as important for the existence of novel features of society such as new organizations, new practices, or new relations between actors. In this introduction to the volume on emergence, we introduce a framework for examining emergence processes and theories that have been applied or can be applied to each of the three stages. We also review each volume chapter and discuss their relation to each other. Finally, we make suggestions on the future of research on social emergence processes.

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Part I: Novelty

Abstract

How does environmental uncertainty affect the process of starting new hybrid organizations? Our comparative analysis of the formation of two “green” banks – with hybrid goals linked to banking and environmental logics – reveals that shifts in their strategic orientations resulted from attempts to align uncertain and changing resource environments with the composition and goals of the organizations’ top leadership. While the initial idea and goals of the founders were similar, the organizations they established ended up with divergent strategic orientations and senior leadership groups.

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We examine the emergence of an organizational form, charter schools, in Oakland, California. We link field-level logics to organizational founding identities using topic modeling. We find corporate and community founding actors create distinct and consistent identities, whereas more peripheral founders indulge in more unique identity construction. We see the settlement of the form into a stable ecosystem with multiple identity codes rather than driving toward a single organizational identity. The variety of identities that emerge do not always map onto field-level logics. This has implications for the conditions under which organizational innovation and experimentation within a new form may develop.

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We examine the construction of “empty categories” – that is, categories created prior to the existence of producers and consumers – and their implications for industry emergence. Drawing on the case of the ji-biru category among Japanese microbreweries, we exemplify how external actors – including governments, the media, consultants, and other entities – frequently create empty categories that are “legitimate yet not legitimated” (Vergne & Wry, 2014). We show how such empty categories generate lower entry barriers, resulting in higher founding rates and significant innovation. We highlight how empty categories impede evolutionary forces by inhibiting shared understandings of what constitutes a legitimate category member.

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Abstract

In this article, I propose a theory of network opportunity emergence. The core of the argument is that as an overall industry network structure becomes centralized, opportunities emerge for new entrants. As the institutional environment evolves toward a centralized network flow structure, innovators can identify newly emerged rich resource niches that serve as the perfect breeding ground for an entrepreneurial start-up. While the framework is an aggregate level conceptualization of market opportunities, it also identifies specific actionable opportunities at a very micro level. Examples from the networks of the airline industry illustrate the logic. I conclude by discussing the innovation and entrepreneurship implications for a wide variety of industries and network tie types, calling for utilization of the framework to answer a broad variety of research questions.

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Part II: Growth

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Studies of the social construction of markets have not determined which social environments, which we refer to as proximate social space, are most likely to trigger social construction processes. We find that U.S. nonprofit fiscal sponsors respond to greater potential for category emergence when proximate social space is defined by geography but not by market segment. Further, in addition to responding to potential claimants based on geographic peers, organizations also respond to actual claimants based on peers in the market segment. The pattern suggests that geographic social proximity triggers initial label claiming, which in turn triggers responses from market segment peers.

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The ubiquity of digitally intermediated interactions is changing the ways in which social interaction creates the cognitive and institutional underpinnings of new markets. Logics that define markets used to be localized, but they now emerge from crowds that span – and persist – across time and space. This article builds a theory of how crowds emerge and evolve in a way that influences the emergence of shared logics and helps explain why some markets are viable while others are not. What is revealed is that a crowd has a hidden niche structure that determines the fate of a new market.

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We examine the concept of ‘organisational fields’, a notion employed frequently, but at times with inconsistency, to describe supra-industrial conglomerations of organisations with a mutual interest. We find this concept analytically useful in today’s world of rapid technological change and of organisations searching for business across industry boundaries. With our study of smart-city development in Japan, we provide an alternative theory to the predominant socio-cognitive explanations of how organisational fields emerge. Based on our empirical case, the drivers for the early development of an organisational field are concrete organisational actions to assemble the tangible objects of the new field.

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Part III: Formation

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We examine how the organizational identity of established firms affects their strategic outcomes during the emergence phase of a new market. Drawing on cognitive theories of analogical learning, we build theory about how the established identities of producers influence the fluency with which consumers make sense of novel products, and hence affect valuations. We illustrate this theory through an empirical study of consumer evaluations of de alio entrants during the emergence of the digital camera industry.

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This article explores the contingent role that social ties play in the emergence of status hierarchies. We argue that, while status is formed based on actors’ perception and understanding of social cues, network structure, and position influence this process by influencing the attention and legitimacy given to the focal actor in accordance with social cues that signal an actor’s identity. Using a large data set from an open-source software development community, we find that a broker linking diverse network members is less likely to receive status ratings from others and that the rating is more likely to be low when a broker receives a rating. Furthermore, we find evidence that the effects of brokerage are contingent upon certain factors that may affect the attention and legitimacy given to actors in the process of status evaluation, such as the actor’s prior status. An actor’s prior status was found to weaken the negative effect of brokerage. The importance of this study for theories of status, social networks, and attention is discussed.

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Using data from securities analysts, who are awarded status by the third-party organization Institutional Investor magazine, we examine the emergence of competition and articulate a model of competitive response among actors aware of the importance of status and some of the dimensions on which it may be gained. We predict analysts’ initiating or ceasing coverage of stocks in response to other analysts initiating coverage on stocks they cover. We find that competition can emerge because of status seeking rather than as a response to own capabilities or market needs, with compelling, and potentially negative, market implications for overt status seeking.

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We draw on an in-depth investigation into the phenomenon of community radio in India to identify the emergence of an institutional logic in a field. We delineate five stages of emergence, starting with problematization of dominant logics and ending with formation of an institutionally complex field. Further, we highlight how such a process results in organizational forms that reflect ongoing struggles among dominant logics and the emerging logic. We contribute to neoinstitutional studies on the emergence of social objects and also draw the attention of emergence theorists to the contested manner in which emergence takes place in the social world.

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How does career boundary-crossing affect an entrepreneur’s new venture? When entrepreneurs cross industry or functional boundaries to lead startups, they may lack specific experience needed for performance. Conversely, the diverse experiences they carry can enhance exploration and lead to the emergence of innovation in startups. We highlight important consequences of career boundary-crossing, using a multi-industry longitudinal sample of high-technology firms. We find that entrepreneurs who cross functional boundaries are more likely to lead their startups into new product areas. We also find that entrepreneurs’ industry boundary-crossing is associated with startup failure, but it also increases the probability of an IPO.

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About the Authors

Pages 449-454
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Index

Pages 455-471
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Cover of Emergence
DOI
10.1108/S0733-558X201750
Publication date
2017-03-24
Book series
Research in the Sociology of Organizations
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78635-915-5
Book series ISSN
0733-558X