OMT WebOrganization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management
The Eighth Annual West Coast Research Symposium (WCRS) was held August 27-28, 2010 at the University of Oregon. Co-hosts for the event included Stanford University, the University of Washington, the University of Southern California and the University of California-Irvine. On August 26, before the main conference started, there was a Doctoral Student Workshop, sponsored in part by the Kauffman Foundation. During the Workshop's last session, six “junior” scholars each offered their thoughts and observations about the future of technology entrepreneurship research. Below is a summary of their comments (in order of appearance).
Riitta Katila, Associate Professor of Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University. Riitta’s comments focused on content and methods. On the content side, Riitta suggested there is a tremendous opportunity to think about competition – in terms of the competition for entrepreneurship, the timing of competition, and the sequence of competitive moves. In short, how do entrepreneurial firms compete? Here she felt there was an opportunity to re-examine older strategic insights in the context of entrepreneurship. On the method side, Riitta highlighted the need for more multimethod studies, especially those combining both qualitative and quantitative archival data. However, in a twist, she suggested that we might benefit be reversing the order of these two. She proposed leading with quantitative analysis, and then using qualitative data – both archival and interviews to make sense of the findings in a richer way.
Peer Fiss, McAlister Associate Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. In terms of future research opportunities, Peer highlighted the need to better understand not only the diffusion of practices, but also their variation. In particular, we need to develop more theoretical understanding for how and why particular firms end up adopting particular practice variants. For him, this is not about opportunity discovery, but opportunity creation, whether in the form of new markets, new firms or new meanings. Rather than seeing the opportunity space as given, Peer argued we need to conceptualize it as an institutional space that can be shaped. All of this points to the need for a richer understanding of framing, meaning construction and sensegiving.
Sonali Shah, Assistant Professor at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Sonali began by echoing Riitta’s call for more multimethod studies, and then turned to making two points. First, she highlighted the need for more research into openness, and open innovation, as compared with historical emphasis on proprietary innovation. Here she highlighted IBM’s Eclipse, as well as work on what she called the “ecosystem of the smart phone industry.” Second, she called for more industry studies, namely a deep dive into an entire industry and its evolution and change over time. She argued that such an approach allows for theory building that is internally consistent, but also valid.
Yan Gong, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Irvine’s Merage School of Business. Yang’s first comment centered on the need to better understand how entrepreneurial firms respond to unexpected events, especially the differential effects of improvisation versus planned responses. He proposed “action sequence studies” as one way of understanding how firms respond. His second theme concerned entrepreneurial learning, including how entrepreneurs learn, and how learning varies in emergent versus established settings, especially in situations where there is not yet a dominant design, where there is no leader.
Taryn Stanko, Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. Taryn focused on two issues. First, at the intersection of entrepreneurship and identity, how does identity shape entrepreneurship? For instance, she noted that there is more we need to know about the impact of cultural differences, generational differences, and gender differences on entrepreneurial behavior. Here she noted how one of her research projects is looking at how the use of virtual worlds for work shapes the identities of those involved and the routines developed for teamwork and innovation. Second, the intersection of entrepreneurship and cognition may also offer fruitful areas for future research. For example, different kinds of diversity, such as functional and institutional, may be a proxy for different cognitive frameworks which shape the nature of knowledge creation.
Andrew Nelson, Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. Andrew wrapped up the session by drawing attention to questions of research setting and measurement. In terms of research setting, Andrew noted just how many settings are readily overlooked by entrepreneurship scholars. As a corrective, he proposed that we embrace the diversity of the settings that is in front of us. Second, he wondered if our measures of innovation are too restricted to things such as patents and publications. Here he drew on his research into Stanford’s Department of Music, where a use of these measures would drastically underrepresent the extent of the innovation taking place.
Tags: Andrew Nelson | conference | entrepreneurship | Peer Fiss | Riitta Katila | Sonali Shah | Taryn Stanko | West Coast Research Symposium | Yan Gong
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