Origins of Organizations: The Entrepreneurial Process

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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 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. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.






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Ruef, M (2005). Origins of Organizations: The Entrepreneurial Process. Research in the Sociology of Work, 15. pp. 63–100. 10.1016/S0277-2833(05)15004-3 Retrieved from

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Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship

My research considers the social context of entrepreneurship from both a contemporary and historical perspective. I draw on large-scale surveys of entrepreneurs in the United States to explore processes of team formation, innovation, exchange, and boundary maintenance in nascent business startups. My historical analyses address entrepreneurial activity and constraint during periods of profound institutional change. This work has considered a diverse range of sectors, including the organizational transformation of Southern agriculture and industry after the Civil War, African American entrepreneurship under Jim Crow, the transition of the U.S. healthcare system from professional monopoly to managed care, and the character of entrepreneurship during early mercantile and industrial capitalism.

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