Sindakis and Walter present a book on entrepreneurship, innovation, management and policy making that should be of interest for anyone inhabiting the “start-up ecosystem, which is struggling to comprehend what it takes to build products for the [Southeast-Asia] region and how to enter emerging markets” (p. xv). I see the main shortcoming of this ambitious project in the omission of one of the most important but still generally understudied entrepreneurial tasks: convincing others to make use of artifacts (goods, services, processes) that work in other contexts and therefore legitimizing their use within local conditions. Unfortunately, the theoretical treatment of how the rules of the game interact with entrepreneurship remains weak throughout the book.
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Coordination through the price system has been well studied and the coordinating aspects of price signals are appreciated among economists and non-economists alike. This paper argues that the coordination processes which take place within markets are often shaped by other systems of non-price coordination. These non-price coordination systems, or orders of worth as we call them, can be thought of as emergent orders just like the price system is an emergent order; they are sources of justification that can be drawn upon to warrant the worth of diverse artifacts and the legitimacy of trading them. We show that Adam Smith’s theory of sympathy hints towards the need for such non-price coordination systems and offers conceptual means for analyzing the emergence of such orders. We link Smith with contemporary work in economic sociology and we distinguish, following a framework developed by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot, between different orders of worth, we explain how they can help us understand the justification of the exchange and value of contested goods and we apply this theoretical framework to cases of art, life and reproduction.
Entrepreneurs do more than just buy low and sell high; they sometimes also change our institutions, including our categories of thought. New institutional economics has been examining incentives that drive individuals to bring about market-supporting institutional arrangements. There is, however, an aspect of entrepreneurship conducive to institutional changes that has been neglected by contemporary institutionalist theories and that remains underdeveloped in entrepreneurship research. When and how does entrepreneurship bring about institutional change? I suggest that entrepreneurs are agents of institutional change when cultural categorization is ambiguous with regard to what the proper and permissible applications of novel artifacts are. Motherhood, for example, used to be a simple category, but surrogacy changed that radically. Examining newspaper evidence, social surveys, statutory law, and judicial cases, I show how entrepreneurs, by provoking a change in interpretation and judgment, challenged the existing institutional legal ordering of procreation turning a technically feasible method of surrogacy into current practice.