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Title: Global Disruptors: Startups, Entrepreneurs, and Investors in the Age of Technocapitalism
Authors: Tien, Grace
Advisors: Vertesi, Janet A
Wuthnow, Robert J
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: crossborder
developing economies
tech startups
Subjects: Organizational behavior
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines tech startups, entrepreneurs, and investors operating in a crossborder context between the states and China and in the context of China as a transitional economy. The study broadly takes a sociological lens to understanding tech-driven entrepreneurship in transitional economies, microprocesses of institutional change, and emerging institutional fields and markets. The three empirical chapters more specifically examine the impact of the state on entrepreneurial actors’ decision-making, microprocesses and strategies in legitimacy building, as well as the role and impact of cultural narratives about the firm. The first chapter asks how state-driven regulatory risk is perceived and impacts entrepreneurial actors’—which includes both entrepreneurs and investors—decision-making and finds that these actors operating in the context of a transitional economy like China not only take state-driven regulatory risk into account more than their Western counterparts, but are also more likely to take entrepreneurial risks when an institutional field (or emerging field, market) is still nascent. The second chapter asks how startups and actors signal legitimacy when the institutional field or emerging market is still nascent in transitional economies like China and finds that firms and actors utilize explicit and implicit strategies of “brand-building” to signal legitimacy in such contexts. The third chapter asks about how organizational identity is expressed and circulated through myths and narratives about “company culture” and “the charismatic CEO,” how these subsequently impact the firm—and finds that the two most important priorities for early stage firms’ survival are hiring and fundraising effectively, and these narratives often play an important role in recruiting top talent or attracting investors. The study draws on 24 months of ethnographic fieldwork—12 months at a fintech startup in Beijing and 12 months as a crossborder angel investor between China and the states—as well as 100 semi-structured interviews with startup entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs, and angel or venture capital investors.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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