Research and teaching

The mobilization of scarce resources

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2008 - (0 Comments)

Bjørn Løvås and Olav Sorenson

We examine how the ability of one actor to gain access to resources controlled by another depends on two factors: (i) the number of mutual acquaintances connecting the prospective lender and borrower and (ii) the scarcity of the resources in question. We argue that the incentives to renege on an agreement grow as the resources being traded become increasingly scarce. Mutual acquaintances, however, dampen these incentives, and therefore become more important to facilitating exchange as demand for the good of interest rises. Our analysis of qualitative and quantitative evidence from a study of senior partners at an international consultancy supports these propositions.

Advances in Strategic Management, 25: 361-389

Olav Sorenson and Toby E. Stuart

Most existing theories of relationship formation imply that actors form highly cohesive ties that aggregate into homogenous clusters, but actual networks also include many “distant” ties between parties that vary on one or more social dimensions. To explain the formation of distant ties, we propose a theory of relationship formation based on the characteristics of “settings,” or the places and times in which actors meet. We posit that organizations form relations with distant partners when they participate in two types of settings: unusually faddish ones and those with limited risks to participants. In an empirical analysis of our thesis in the formation of syndicate relations between U.S. venture capital firms from 1985 to 2007, we find that the probability that geographically and industry distant ties will form between venture capital firms increases with several attributes of the target-company investment setting: (1) the recent popularity of investing in the target firm’s industry and home region, (2) the target company’s maturity, (3) the size of the investment syndicate, and (4) the density of relationships among the other members of the syndicate.

Administrative Science Quarterly, 53 (2008): 266-294

Entrepreneurship: A field of dreams?

August 7th, 2009 | Posted by admin in 2008 - (0 Comments)

Olav Sorenson and Toby E. Stuart

This paper has two objectives. We begin by contrasting two potential paths for future research in entrepreneurship. One is the establishment of an independent field of research with a clear jurisdiction, a common theoretical canon, and autonomy from related fields. The second is a phenomena-based approach, in which scholars congregate around common interests in empirical phenomena but approach them with distinct disciplinary lenses. After discussing these alternatives and lobbying for the phenomena-based approach, we then review some of the recent, discipline-based research in economic and organizational sociology relevant to entrepreneurship, and identify significant gaps in that literature.

Academy of Management Annals, 2 (2008): 517-543