Keller Center - Educating Leaders for a Technology-Driven Society

How do Work Environments Shape Entrepreneurial Transitions?

How do Work Environments Shape Entrepreneurial Transitions?

Jesper SorensenDate: Monday, April 23, 2012
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Friend Center
Convocation Room (113)
(campus map)
Other: Light reception and networking to follow

The Graduate School, Butler College, and the Keller Center are pleased to welcome Stanford Professor of Organizational Behavior Jesper Sørensen to the Princeton University campus on Monday, April 23, 2012.

Sørensen, a sociologist who specializes in studying the dynamics of both organizations and careers, will be the third and final speaker in the series "The Power of E: Advancing the Boundaries of Entrepreneurship", which aims to promote cross-disciplinary and undergraduate-graduate dialogue on social issues through an entrepreneurial lens. The talk will be followed by a light reception and networking.

Organizations beget organizations. While tales of successful entrepreneurs emerging from college dormitories capture the popular imagination, the vast majority of entrepreneurs enter into entrepreneurship from employment in established firms. This does not, of course, mean that the organization plays a large role in shaping the entrepreneurial decision in all cases; it may be the case that for many people the job is just a job that pays the bills until they can realize their long-held entrepreneurial ambitions. Yet such a view would seem inconsistent with much of what we have learned from the literature on organizational behavior on how the structures, composition and policies and practices of organizations shape individual preferences and beliefs, access to information and opportunities, and creativity and risk-taking. Working people spend a large portion of their waking hours in formal organizations, and these organizations shape their experiences in a multitude of ways that they have little control over. It thus seems natural to bring our understanding of these processes to bear on our understanding of entrepreneurship. Fortunately, in recent years we have seen a convergence in the research interests of organizations and entrepreneurship scholars.  In particular, there has been a growth in research that examines the interface between existing organizations (viewed primarily as places of employment) and entrepreneurship, and that seeks to understand how the workplace shapes entrepreneurial activity and outcomes. This talk will provide a framework for thinking about the influence of organizations on entrepreneurial entry, consider the existing evidence, and identify promising avenues for future research.

About the speaker
Jesper B. Sørensen is the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business, and (by courtesy) in the Department of Sociology, at Stanford University.  He is currently a faculty director of the Center for Social Innovation, as well as a faculty director for the newly launched Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, which aims to alleviate extreme poverty by helping entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries scale and grow. In addition, he serves as Department Editor for the Organizations Department of Management Science.

His research interests are in labor market processes, organizational dynamics, economic sociology, and entrepreneurship.  His research has touched on topics as varied as how firm characteristics such as organizational age, corporate culture, and incentive systems influence organizational learning and performance; the impact of career experiences on turnover rates and workplace diversity, as well as firm outcomes; the influence of local corporate demography on promotion chances and income inequality; the micro-structure of social class in the United States; and the influence of the work environment on individual rates of entrepreneurship. 

Sørensen received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University and taught at the University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and MIT before returning to Stanford.