Research and teaching

Toby E. Stuart and Olav Sorenson

Much research suggests that social networks shape the emergence and development of nascent ventures. Scholars have argued that founders’ and firms’ networks influence innovation and the identification of entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as facilitate the mobilization of resources for growth and the harvesting of value from fledgling firms. It is not an exaggeration to claim that existing empirical findings point to the centrality of networks in every aspect of the entrepreneurial process. However, with exceptions so few they may be counted on one hand, this research untenably treats network structures as exogenous—in other words, as if entrepreneurs and enterprises do not pursue valuable connections. In this article, we review the literature on networks in entrepreneurial contexts, argue that it disproportionately focuses on the consequences of networks at the expense of research on their origins, and consider the implications for the literature of the fact that most entrepreneurs and young ventures are strategic in their formation of relations. We then articulate a research agenda composed of five areas of inquiry we consider critical to a better understanding of networks and entrepreneurship.

Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 1 (2007): 211-227

Corporate demography and income inequality

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2007 - (0 Comments)

Jesper B. Sørensen and Olav Sorenson

We examine the relationship between income inequality and corporate demography in regional labor markets and specify two mechanisms through which the number and diversity of employers in a labor market affect wage dispersion. Vertical differentiation, or variation in the ability of organizations of a particular kind to benefit from labor inputs, amplifies inequality through quality sorting, as the most productive employees in a particular domain pair with the most productive employers. Increasing horizontal differentiation—variation in the kinds of organizations—reduces inequality as individuals can more easily find firms interested in their distinctive attributes and talents. Our analysis of Danish census data provides support for each thesis. Increased numbers of organizations operating within an industry in a region, a proxy for vertical differentiation, increases wage dispersion in that industry-region. Variation in wages, however, declines with increased horizontal differentiation among employers; this is measured by the diversity of industries offering employment within a region and the variance in firm sizes in an industry-region.

American Sociological Review, 72 (2007): 766-783

Brokers and competitive advantage

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2007 - (0 Comments)

Michael D. Ryall and Olav Sorenson

The broker profits by intermediating between two (or more) parties. Using a biform game, we examine whether such a position can confer a competitive advantage, as well as whether any such advantage could persist if actors formed relations strategically. Our analysis reveals that, if one considers exogenous the relations between actors, brokers can enjoy an advantage but only if (1) they do not face substitutes either for the connections they offer or the value they can create, (2) they intermediate more than two parties, and (3) interdependence does not lock them into a particular pattern of exchange. If, on the other hand, one allows actors to form relations on the basis of their expectations of the future value of those relations, then profitable positions of intermediation only arise under strict assumptions of unilateral action. We discuss the implications of our analysis for firm strategy and empirical research.

Management Science, 53 (2007): 566-583

Science, social networks and spillovers

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2007 - (0 Comments)

Olav Sorenson and Jasjit Singh

Although prior empirical research has established an association between science and the widespread diffusion of knowledge, the exact mechanism(s) through which science catalyses information flow remains somewhat ambiguous. This paper investigates whether the knowledge diffusion associated with science-based innovation stems from the norm of openness and incentives for publication, or whether scientists maintain more extensive and dispersed social networks that facilitate the dissemination of tacit knowledge. Our analysis supports the first mechanism: we track the movement of knowledge with patent citations, and find that science-based innovations diffuse more rapidly and widely, even after controlling for the underlying social networks of researchers as measured using information on prior collaborations. We also find that publication and social networks act as substitutes in the diffusion of knowledge.

Industry and Innovation, 14 (2007): 219-238