Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
I explain why individuals are selecting entrepreneurship at an accelerating rate, particularly given known and consistently high failure rates. The underlying research question addresses how the social context relates to the fulfillment of the individual’s objectives, and what kind of social environment is being generated by that behavior.
I use a consumption framework to explain new venture creation as a process of individual choice under conditions of mutual influence (Douglas and Isherwood, 1996 :100). Consumption is thus thought of here as a symbolic system able to be read through the pattern found in the use of a good, at the front-end of a process of value creation.
The ethnographic object in this research is the scalable new venture, and its association with the rituals which surround it, and the organization and structure which support it. My data is based on approximately 3 years of fieldwork spent with entrepreneurs building scalable new ventures. The context for this research includes conditions of growing inter-relatedness linked in part to technological change, associated with an increase in the individual search for differentiation and competitive advantage.
My research findings unpack a ritual of interaction, the pitch, associated with new venture creation. The pitch is defined as a communication meant to communicate an entrepreneur’s vision and at the same time raise capital. I explain the ways in which the good expressed in ritualized activity, in the pitch, is both singularized and commodified, in a larger framework of macro level change. My research findings also explain how change in organization, taking place in the global incubators and accelerators where new ventures are supported, is associated with change in the relation to space, time, and duration.
I conclude with a discussion of entrepreneurship as a function and vehicle of social change in terms of both globalization and speciation. This represents a significant area for ongoing research as entrepreneurship continues to increase and new groups are formed, legitimizing both new forms of difference and new forms and forums of integration.
Mitts, Leslie, "Entrepreneurship and Social Change" (2016). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 1900.