See the call for papers here [PDF]. Here is the journal website: Valuation Studies. H/t CHARISMA. How is this related to the social study of entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurs engage in a variety of valuation practices through the entire life cycle of a start-up, from evaluating the various elements they acquire for creating new combinations to valuing the firm when the owners exit their investment. Valuation happens every time entrepreneurs engage with markets.
Valuation Studies is a new open access journal connecting several vibrant research fields working on the study of valuation as a social practice. To engage scholars with various backgrounds and orientations in discussions about valuation, the journal welcomes papers in different forms, including papers that use or combine a variety of methods, from ethnographic accounts to quantitative appraisal to conceptual interpretation.
The overall aim of the new open access journal Valuation Studies is to foster valuable conversations in a new transdisciplinary and emerging field relating to the study of valuation as a social practice. The journal’s first issue will be available in the first half of 2013.
The journal will provide a space for the assessment and diffusion of research that is produced at the interface of a variety of approaches from several disciplines: sociology, economic sociology, science and technology studies, organisation and management studies, social and cultural anthropology, market studies, institutional perspectives in economics, accounting studies, cultural geography, philosophy, and literary studies. The project emerges out of the increasing synergies between these approaches around one particular ambit: valuation.
From an interesting interview with Neil Fligstein (in The Browser), which he ends by reflecting on the future of economic sociology (though he is a bit harsh on economics :)
There’s a lot of interest in entrepreneurship, how new markets come into existence and their resemblance to social movements. Economics has almost nothing important to say about entrepreneurship and a lot of what’s being said about entrepreneurship comes from sociology.
Business schools are increasingly interested in applied economic sociology. Entrepreneurial studies are based on economic sociology. Courses on marketing and branding are infused with economic sociology. The main way in which economic sociology finds its way into the mainstream is through business studies and network analysis. And as for the dismal science of economics, I think reality undermines it every day without this assistance of sociologists.
Make sure to check out the rest of the interview as well, in which Fligstein discusses five of his most favourite economic sociology books (by Zelizer, Granovetter, Dobbin, Bourdieu and MacKenzie).
All roads lead to Rome, and I suspect that social studies of entrepreneurship also lead to market studies. Therefore readers might be interested in this call for papers for the 2nd EIASM Interdisciplinary Market Studies Workshop in Howth near Dublin, Ireland, June 7-8, 2012. The deadline for a max. 3 page abstract is 27 January 2012. Invited guests will be professors Robin Wensley (Warwick, UK) and David Stark (Columbia, US). Apply here. More information here.
We particularly welcome in depth empirical studies of marketization processes in new areas and of major changes in existing markets. These settings provide excellent opportunities for reflection regarding the ordering devices, objects, models, representations, and tools that are set up and employed to propagate certain market forms over others, as well as the morality and values that underpin those instruments. In short, this workshop will revolve around the major questions of:
• What are the limits of market models and their realization?
• What practices are involved in (dis)ordering markets?
• What kinds of economic orders (markets or others) result from these efforts?
• What are the ‘civilizing’ effects of these orders, on markets, market actors and societies at large?
• What relationships exist between values realized in markets (for instance via the price mechanism) and the values underlying the marketization effort?
• What moral orders are used to justify marketization efforts?
Organising committee: Susi Geiger, University College Dublin, Debbie Harrison, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo Hans Kjellberg, Stockholm School of Economics and Alexandre Mallard, Ecole des Mines ParisTech
I just received this interesting invitation to the AoM 2011 that mix entrepreneurship (from a critical point of view) with studies of Urban Development. What a mix!
Here the complete call:
Dear Friends and Colleagues Critters,
We are kindly inviting you to participate in our Panel Symposium at this year’s AoM in San Antonio. This panel symposium aims to challenge existing theories and approaches to urban development available in the mainstream entrepreneurship field through critical perspectives. By highlighting different reasons, aims and practices based on which diverse individuals, groups and communities engage in entrepreneuring activities for the purpose of urban development, we challenge the underlying economic assumptions guiding entrepreneurship theory and research. To this effect, our symposium aims to promote discussion around entrepreneurship as social change by focusing on its sociocultural, political, and economic drivers. The panel participants will focus specifically on issues such as food safety and urban activism, immigrant and transnational links in urban development, indigenous entrepreneurship in urban contexts, individual choice in social change for urban development, and questions around who reaps the benefits of urban development. Our goal is to foster conversation around these topics as well as discuss how critical perspectives can be utilized to redirect theorizing and research in the entrepreneurship field.
See below for a session guideline with the different issues to be discussed.
Arturo E. Osorio & Banu Ozkazanc-Pan
Program Session #: 1581 | Submission: 16493 | Sponsor(s): (ENT) Scheduled: Tuesday, Aug 16 2011 3:00PM - 4:30PM at San Antonio Convention Center in Room 007 C CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT and Urban Development Organizer: Banu Ozkazanc-Pan; U. of Massachusetts, Boston Organizer: Arturo E Osorio; Rutgers U., Newark Panelist: Daniel Hjorth; Copenhagen Business School Panelist: Christopher Wheat; Rutgers U., Newark Panelist: Deirdre Tedmanson; U. of South Australia Panelist: Caroline Essers; Nijmegen U. SESSION OUTLINE 1) General Introduction 2) First set of panelists: Different communities, entrepreneurship, and urban development a) Deirdre Tedmanson: Indigenous Non-economic driven entrepreneurship development b) Banu Özkazanç-Pan: Exploration of the intersections of globalization, immigration, and entrepreneuring to demonstrate transnational connections and urban development c) Christopher Wheat: Accrual of benefits from urban spaces: opportunities for outsiders or locals 3) Second set of panelists: Urban entrepreneurship: Different aims and outcomes a) Daniel Hjorth: Connecting entrepreneurship with the social in the context of urban development to achieve social transformation b) Arturo E. Osorio: The role of natural science scientists as urban entrepreneurs solving day-to-day urban problems 4) Q&A 5) Conclusions Search Terms: Critical perspective, Urban development, Social change
Now there is an interesting topic! The reason I’m bringing this up is not to raise the issue whether becoming an entrepreneur leads to having more or less sex (although who knows, maybe there is something to it). It is also not about entrepreneurship in the adult industry. It’s not even about entrepreneurship and gender. Rather, what got me thinking about entrepreneurship and sex is this BBC News article about recent research on how “worms’ sex life yields advantage over parasites.” The article claims that this is the first convincing evidence on why reproducing sexually has an advantage over asexual reproduction:
Worms forced to reproduce asexually succumbed to a nasty bacterial infection and died.
The researchers say the results are the most convincing evidence to date for a key theory in evolutionary biology.
The theory holds that sex evolved because it lets organisms reshuffle their genes into new combinations to stay a step ahead of parasites.
Reproducing asexually – where organisms clone themselves – makes much more sense; there is no need for an organism to search and seduce a mate, fight off competitors, or risk contracting a sexually transmitted disease. (…)
And yet sex exists; the vast majority of animals and plants reproduce this way.
The link to entrepreneurship and actor-network theory–our main interests on this blog–lies in evolutionary theory. Schumpeter drew on biological evolutionary theory for his definition of entrepreneurship as the creation of new combinations. Latour also described himself as a Darwinian philosopher at the February 2008 Harman Review event. In The Science of Passionate Interests, Latour and Lépinay cite Tarde’s critique of Darwin’s evolutionary theory:
His mistake […] seems to me to have been in relying far more on the struggle for existence, a biological form of opposition, than on cross-breeding and hybridization, biological forms of adaptation and harmony. […] And […] a fertile hybridization, as an exception, is far neater than a hereditary accumulation of small advantageous variations, through competition and selection, to explain the formation of new types of life. (p. 36)
Later on Latour and Lépinay provide another Tarde citation:
And, certainly, it is good that Darwin’s genius pushed this paradox to its limit, for, at present, it is still established that natural selection, that excellent agent of purifying elimination, does not create anything and posits that which it claims to explain–living renovations–in the form of individual variations, and that the secret of these creations of life are hidden from our eyes in the depths of the fertilized egg instead of consisting in the outer shock of organisms fighting each other… (p. 44)
It does sound like the above research findings about the sex life of worms justify Tarde’s insight. What does all this mean for entrepreneurship though?
Schumpeter makes a sharp distinction between entrepreneurship as innovation (the creation of new combinations), and the mere reproduction of existing business models. Using the biological metaphor, it seems entrepreneurs producing innovations are reproducing sexually, while managers who replicate existing business models are reproducing asexually. Who or what would be though the parasites that infect non-innovative firms?
The problem with making this sharp distinction between differentiating and reproducing firms, as I’ve suggested in earlier posts, is that it ignores the fact that for the innovation to survive it actually needs adopters, those that ‘merely’ replicate the innovation (which is of course unlikely to be just a mere adoption and is probably more like an adaptation of the innovation). Although one could argue that adopters of an innovation are part of the overall wave or network of innovation, and therefore they are also guests at the sex party. Who are then those unfortunate asexually reproducing firms then, and what sort of parasites are causing their demise? How to identify both?
Maybe this is not as difficult as it sounds. Even from a pop culture point of view, entrepreneurial ventures and entrepreneurs are celebrated as sexy (Just think of Richard Branson’s Virgin, a company name that is almost an ironic reference to the sexy nature of entrepreneurship). Working for a start-up is risky and dangerous but also exciting and sexy, as opposed to working for a boring firm that is engaged in the repetition of formulas. Still, don’t we need boring firms and asexual reproducers as well to maintain and sustain the stability of the economic environment, which then creates the conditions for sexy entrepreneurship?
(In any case, I do hope all this talk about sex is not going to result in an orgy of spammers.)
In The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Howard E. Aldrich has a good summary and evaluation of various definitions of entrepreneurship, most of which have also been alluded to on this blog already. According to Aldrich, there are four competing definitions of entrepreneurship:
- The setting up of high-growth and high-capitalisation firms (as opposed to low-growth and low-capitalisation ‘lifestyle’ businesses);
- Innovation and innovativeness leading to new products and new markets (the Schumpeterian tradition);
- Opportunity recognition (the Kirznerian tradition);
- The creation of new organisations.
According to Aldrich there are problems with all four of these definitions. There is a strong selection bias with the first two. Whether a firm has high growth and had introduced an innovation can only be established retrospectively and high capitalisation is no guarantee of high growth or innovativeness. I would add that the political consequences of these definitions are also far-reaching, as they may lead to government policies favouring firms that are already in a privileged position, rather than provide support where it’s more needed.
The second and third definition according to Aldrich also suffers from the problem of being applicable to a wide range of situations, with entrepreneurship just being one. The effect of that is most evident e.g. in the afterlife of Schumpeter’s concept, which became more popular in the theory of the firm as a way of describing the R&D function, corporate venturing and intrapreneurship, than new venture formation in entrepreneurship studies. According to Aldrich, entrepreneurship studies had forgotten Schumpeter.
The adoption of Kirzner’s notion of “opportunity recognition” also had a particular disciplinary effect: because “opportunity recognition” has to do with an entrepreneur’s alertness and alertness seems to be a something that happens in the mind, this stream of research turned entrepreneurship into a problem of cognitive psychology, preoccupied with the figure – but especially the mind – of the entrepreneur.
The problem with the fourth definition according to Aldrich is that it is difficult to delineate when actually new organisations emerge as new social entities. It is both a philosophical problem and a methodological problem. Nevertheless, this last definition has been gaining support in entrepreneurship studies and Aldrich also picks it as the one to zoom in on in the rest of his chapter.
What can we make of these rival definitions and corresponding theories and their consequences from an STS/ANT perspective? The problem of selection bias in the first two definitions makes them interesting candidates for considering the political consequences of those theories, and the current work-in-progress UK government policy of channelling support away from ‘lifestyle’ firms to those perceived as ‘high-growth’ firms provides an excellent case study.
At the same time Schumpeter’s theory of innovation/entrepreneurship as “the creation of new combinations” deserves renewed attention. An argument could be made for disentangling these two concepts and clarifying their relationship, bringing into the picture those new firms as well that adopt the “new combination” but in themselves may not fit the “high-growth” and “innovative” label. In effect I’m arguing about establishing a link between definitions 2 and 4 that would not be subject to the selection bias (i.e. empirical work would focus not only on the innovating firm that is already in a high-growth stage with its innovation in diffusion but on any enterprise that participates in some form in the adoption or distribution of the innovation, even if it’s a low-growth ‘lifestyle’ firm and therefore seemingly only a consumer or repeater of the innovation). The Schumpeterian concept of “new combinations of resources” also offers an opportunity to examine the nature and origin of those resources (both human and nonhuman) that are being combined, as well as the very activities and practices that are needed for creating a new combination.
Kirzner’s thoughts on entrepreneurship could also be revisited from a ‘new’ new economic sociology perspective. However, rather than focusing on the thought processes of the entrepreneur, it might be more interesting to focus on the aspect of Kirzner’s theory that deals with the relationship between the entrepreneur and the market and considers the entrepreneur as a market participant.
The fourth definition is of course naturally attractive to an STS-inclined researcher, considering that the emergence of new entities has always been a core interest of STS and ANT studies. When it comes to entrepreneurship however, it would be important to consider the same point as with the Schumpeterian theory, namely that the role of seemingly repetitive or imitative venture creations should not be disregarded in favour of the highly innovative or controversial ones. Perhaps a Gabriel Tarde quote can be helpful here:
The problem can be summed up as follows: to grasp as closely as possible the genesis of inventions and the laws of imitations. Economic progress supposes two things: on the one hand, a growing number of different desires, for without a difference in desires, no exchange is possible, and, with the appearance of each new, different desire, the life of exchange is kindled. On the other hand, a growing number of similar exemplars of each desire taken separately, for, without similitude, no industry is possible, and, the more this similitude expands or prolongs itself, the more production is widened or reinforced. (Psychologie économique, cited in Latour and Lépinay, p. 35)