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This chapter combines insights from organizational theory and the entrepreneurship literature to inform a process-based conception of organizational founding. In contrast…
This chapter combines insights from organizational theory and the entrepreneurship literature to inform a process-based conception of organizational founding. In contrast to previous discrete-event approaches, the conception argues that founding be viewed as a series of potential entrepreneurial activities – including initiation, resource mobilization, legal establishment, social organization, and operational startup. Drawing on an original data set of 591 entrepreneurs, the study examines the effect of structural, strategic, and environmental contingencies on the relative rates with which different founding activities are pursued. Results demonstrate that social context has a fairly pervasive impact on the occurrence and sequencing of founding processes, with one possible exception being the timing of legal establishment.
An extensive literature in organizational theory discusses how established organizations shape and maintain their boundaries but offers little guidance as to how organizational boundaries emerge in the first place. This paper examines boundary formation in business startups using a nationally representative dataset of U.S. nascent entrepreneurs. We propose several distinct roles for individuals entering into entrepreneurial activity, distinguishing between “insiders” (owner-managers) who commit both time and financial resources to these startups and “outsiders” (including passive investors and advisors) who offer more limited resource commitments. Two important criteria demarcating organizational insiders and outsiders in emergent organizations are functionality and perceived trustworthiness. Our results suggest that boundary formation is more often based on a potential member's trustworthiness, as perceived by peers, than functionality, emphasizing considerations such as transaction cost minimization and uniqueness of resource contributions. We propose several mechanisms that may account for this result among nascent entrepreneurs, including a lack of economic sophistication, calculative trust, and the importance of social solidarity for founder recruitment.
The sociology of entrepreneurship is a blossoming field of research, but its scholarly contribution has been critiqued for its lack of coherence and intellectual distance…
The sociology of entrepreneurship is a blossoming field of research, but its scholarly contribution has been critiqued for its lack of coherence and intellectual distance from the sociological mainstream. In this article, we critically examine the theoretical presuppositions of the field, trace its historical origins, and attempt to situate the sociology of entrepreneurship within the sociological canon. We place special emphasis on the contribution of Max Weber, whose early work provides a useful template for a comprehensive approach to understanding the context, process, and effects of entrepreneurial activity. We conclude by locating contemporary approaches to entrepreneurship – including the contributions in this volume – within this neo-Weberian framework.
Purpose – Drawing from social psychology and economics, I propose several mechanisms that may affect ownership stakes among entrepreneurs, including norms of distributive justice, negotiation constraints, and network constraints. The processes are explored empirically for a representative dataset of entrepreneurial teams.
Methodology/Approach – Between 1998 and 2000, entrepreneurial teams were sampled from the U.S. population for the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics. I analyze the distribution of ownership stakes at both the individual and group levels.
Findings – The results suggest that principles of macrojustice, affecting the distribution of resources in teams as a whole, deviate considerably from principles of microjustice, affecting the resources received by individual entrepreneurs. While aggregate inequality increases in teams that have a diverse set of members, the effect is not reducible to discrimination on the basis of individual status characteristics. Instead, the relational demography of teams – characterized in terms of the degree of closeness in network ties and homogeneity in demographic attributes – serves as a uniquely social predictor of between-group variation in economic inequality.
Originality/Value of the paper – Empirical research on inequality has paid little attention to the process of group exchange in organizational start-ups, where entrepreneurs pool resources and skills in return for uncertain or indirect payoffs. This paper offers both theoretical frameworks and empirical analyses to shed light on economic inequality among entrepreneurs.
When I arrived at Stanford in the fall of 1993, the university was a thriving site of organizational research. The department of sociology served as a sort of epicenter…
When I arrived at Stanford in the fall of 1993, the university was a thriving site of organizational research. The department of sociology served as a sort of epicenter, with workshops on organizational ecology (led by Mike Hannan), organizations in the world polity (John Meyer and Francisco “Chiqui” Ramirez), and healthcare organizations (Dick Scott). In the school of education, Jim March was intriguing a new generation of students with his puzzles and wisdom. In addition to Mike Hannan's joint appointment, the Graduate School of Business featured such luminaries as Jeff Pfeffer, Joanne Martin, Jim Baron, Joel Podolny, and Bill Barnett. Slightly further afield, Ray Leavitt and Michael Fehling had begun to train engineers to think about organizational issues, as they developed computer simulations with nuanced attention to cognitive and decision-making processes. Steve Barley would join (what was then) the department of industrial engineering in 1994 and Mark Granovetter would join the department of sociology in 1995, adding fresh insights from the sociology of work and economic sociology, respectively, to what was already a firm foundation for organization studies. The umbrella organization that linked many of these efforts was the Stanford Consortium on Organizational Research (SCOR), which had been guided by Dick Scott's able leadership since 1988 and hosted an annual organizations conference at the beautiful Asilomar retreat in Monterey, California.
How do organizations act as entrepreneurs and what are the outcomes of their innovations? This paper intersects two broad areas of organizational research: the sociology…
How do organizations act as entrepreneurs and what are the outcomes of their innovations? This paper intersects two broad areas of organizational research: the sociology of entrepreneurship and the study of organizational forms. A case study of Kaiser Permanente's role as an institutional entrepreneur in the creation of the health maintenance organization form illuminates the benefits and pitfalls of institutional entrepreneurship – in this case, the act of turning identity into form. Examining organizations as institutional entrepreneurs also raises questions and challenges for future research about both entrepreneurs and models of organizing.
Although recent public attention has focused on boom-and-bust cycles in industries and financial markets, organizational theorists have made only limited contributions to…
Although recent public attention has focused on boom-and-bust cycles in industries and financial markets, organizational theorists have made only limited contributions to our understanding of this issue. In this chapter, I argue that a distinctive strategic insight into the mechanisms generating boom-and-bust cycles arises from a focus on entrepreneurial inertia – the lag time exhibited by organizational founders or investors entering a market niche. While popular perceptions of boom-and-bust cycles emphasize the deleterious effect of hasty entrants or overvaluation, I suggest instead that slow, methodical entries into an organizational population or market may pose far greater threats to niche stability. This proposition is explored analytically, considering the development of U.S. medical schools since the mid-18th century.
Sociological studies of entrepreneurship focus on social and technical innovations in business. Using an illustration from molecular plant biology and the historical…
Sociological studies of entrepreneurship focus on social and technical innovations in business. Using an illustration from molecular plant biology and the historical evolution of the term “entrepreneur,” I make a case for the theoretical and methodological importance of studying entrepreneurs and their ventures outside the scope of traditional business. Then, considering the scientific lab as a self-consciously entrepreneurial venture, I use the population of molecular biology labs studying the plant Arabidopsis thaliana to demonstrate a relationship less directly measurable among start-ups in business: diverse sources of funding accompany original activities and ideas within a venture. This is not, however, what predicts lab success. Lab size drives success, but hinders originality. Moreover, I show that established institutions in science are usually the ones that become innovations in business.