An Evolutionary Approach to Entrepreneurship


An Evolutionary Approach to Entrepreneurship

Selected Essays by Howard E. Aldrich

9780857933362 Edward Elgar Publishing
Howard E. Aldrich, Kenan Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, US
Publication Date: 2011 ISBN: 978 0 85793 336 2 Extent: 616 pp
This much-needed book draws together Howard Aldrich’s key contribution to entrepreneurship research over recent decades.

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This much-needed book draws together Howard Aldrich’s key contribution to entrepreneurship research over recent decades.

In an original introduction, the author first lays out the evolutionary approach, examining the assumptions and principles of ‘selection logic’ that drive evolutionary explanations. The book then expands on evolutionary theory as applied to entrepreneurship, emphasizing the role of historical and comparative analysis before focusing on the importance of social networks, particularly as they affect the genesis of entrepreneurial teams. Professor Aldrich takes a strategic approach to the creation of new organizational populations and communities, using examples from the commercialization of the Internet and the collapse of the Internet bubble. The book then presents his contributions to gender and family, offering a ‘family embeddedness’ perspective before focusing on the implications of entrepreneurship for stratification and inequality in modern societies, combining an evolutionary with a life course perspective. Finally, he concludes the book with another original essay, reflecting on future directions for entrepreneurship research.

This mix of groundbreaking papers that introduced new concepts into the entrepreneurship literature will prove invaluable to scholars – graduate students and faculty members – interested in research on entrepreneurship. Professors of entrepreneurship and strategy as well as academics teaching organizational sociology courses will also find plenty of invaluable information in this important resource.
Critical Acclaim
‘Howard Aldrich. . . has been a significant factor in the growing interest in the application of evolutionary approaches to the study of entrepreneurship. . . A collection of his papers, accessible at one place, will naturally be of great interest to researchers and scholars of entrepreneurship. . . the book presents a valuable collection that should provide scholars with a sound base for further research in the application of evolutionary theories to the study of entrepreneurship.’
– Vijaya Sherry Chand, The Journal of Entrepreneurship

‘. . . the collection represents an archive of pioneering pieces that have shaped today’s rhetoric in the entrepreneurship space. . . To have a collection that maps the evolution of evolutionary theory, as well as present the genesis of entrepreneurial ventures as social entities, is both useful and practical for any reader.’
– J.B. Craig, Academy of Management Learning and Education


1. ‘Who Wants to be an Evolutionary Theorist?, Journal of Management Inquiry, 10 (2), 2001, 115–27

2. ‘Ethnicity and Entrepreneurship’, Annual Review of Sociology, 16, 1990, 111–35 (with R. Waldinger)

3. ‘The Accidental Entrepreneur: Campbellian Antinomies and Organizational Foundings’, in Joel A.C. Baum and Bill McKelvey (eds), Variations in Organization Science: Essays in Honor of Donald T. Campbell, 1999, 19–33 (with A.L. Kenworthy)

4. ‘Lost in Space, Out of Time: Why and How We Should Study Organizations Comparatively’, in Brayden King, Teppo Felin and David Whetten (eds), Studying Differences Between Organizations: Comparative Approaches to Organizational Research, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 26, 2009, 21–44

5. ‘Beam Me Up, Scott(ie)! Institutional Theorists’ Struggles with the Emergent Nature of Entrepreneurship’, in Wesley D. Sine and Robert J. David (eds), Institutions and Entrepreneurship, Research in the Sociology of Work, 21, 2010, 329–64

6. ‘Entrepreneurship Through Social Networks’, in Donald Sexton and Raymond Smilor (eds), The Art and Science of Entrepreneurship, 1986, 3–23 (with C. Zimmer)

7. ‘Personal and Extended Networks are Central to the Entrepreneurial Process’, Journal of Business Venturing, 6 (5), 1991, 305–13 (with P. Dubini)

8. ‘Strong Ties, Weak Ties, and Strangers: Do Women Owners Differ from Men in Their Use of Networking to Obtain Assistance?’, in Sue Birley and Ian MacMillan (eds), Entrepreneurship in a Global Context, 1997, 1–25 (with A.B. Elam and P.R. Reese)

9. ‘The Structure of Founding Teams: Homophily, Strong Ties, and Isolation Among U.S. Entrepreneurs’, American Sociological Review, 68 (2), 2003, 195–222 (with M. Ruef and N.M. Carter)

10. ‘Mixing or Matching? The Influence of Voluntary Associations on the Occupational Diversity and Density of Small Business Owners’ Networks’, Work & Occupations, 33 (1), 2006, 42–72 (with A.E. Davis and L.A. Renzulli)

11. ‘Small Worlds, Infinite Possibilities? How Social Networks Affect Entrepreneurial Team Formation and Search’, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 1 (1), 2007, 147–65 (with P.H. Kim)

12. ‘Even Dwarfs Started Small: Liabilities of Age and Size and Their Strategic Implications’ in Barry Staw and L.L. Cummings (eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, 8, 1986, 165–98 (with E.R. Auster)

13. ‘Resources, Environmental Change, and Survival: Asymmetric Paths of Young Independent and Subsidiary Organizations’, Strategic Management Journal, 32 (5), 2011, 486–509 (with S.W. Bradley, D.A. Shepherd and J. Wiklund)

14. ‘Fools Rush In? The Institutional Context of Industry Creation’, Academy of Management Review, 19 (4), 1994, 645–70 (with C.M. Fiol)

15. ‘The Second Ecology: Creation and Evolution of Organizational Communities’, in Barry Staw and L.L. Cummings (eds), Research in Organizational Behavior, 20, 1998, 267–301 (with C.S. Hunt)

16. ‘Acquiring Competence at a Distance: Application Service Providers as a Hybrid Organizational Form’, The Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 1 (1), 2003, 103–19 (with A. Fortune)

17. ‘Invisible Entrepreneurs: The Neglect of Women Business Owners by Mass Media and Scholarly Journals in the USA’, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 9 (3), 1997, 221–38 (with T. Baker and N. Liou)

18. ‘Family Matters: Gender, Networks, and Entrepreneurial Outcomes’, Social Forces, 79 (2), 2000, 523–46 (with L.A. Renzulli and J. Moody)

19. ‘The Pervasive Effects of Family on Entrepreneurship: Toward a Family Embeddedness Perspective’, Journal of Business Venturing, 18 (5), 2003, 573–96 (with J.E. Cliff)

20. ‘Passing on Privilege: Resources Provided by Self-employed Parents to Their Self-employed Children’, in Kevin Leicht (ed), Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 16, 1998, 291–318 (with L.A. Renzulli and N. Langton)

21. ‘A Life Course Perspective on Occupational Inheritance: Self-employed Parents and Their Children’, in Martin Ruef and Michael Lounsbury (eds), The Sociology of Entrepreneurship, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 25, 2007, 33–82 (with P.H. Kim)

22. ‘Access (Not) Denied: The Impact of Financial, Human, and Cultural Capital on Entrepreneurial Entry in the United States’, Small Business Economics, 27, 2006, 5–22 (with P.H. Kim and L.A. Keister)

23. ‘Entrepreneurship and Inequality’, in Lisa A. Keister (ed), Entrepreneurship: Research in the Sociology of Work, 15, 2005, 3–31 (with S. Lippmann and A. Davis)

24. Conclusions and Further Reflections
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