Structuration theory and entrepreneurship

 "...the essential recursiveness of social life, as constituted in social practices: structure is both medium and outcome of reproduction of practices. Structure enters simultaneously into the constitution of the agent and social practices, and 'exists' in the generating moments of this constitution." - Giddens
Structuration theory, developed by Anthony Giddens, highlights the dynamic and subjective nature of opportunities in the context of entrepreneurship. 

There are two pathways to social action, like new venture creation. First, the easy way is to control existing structures and use them to generate social activity. Think of the structures as memory traces in the minds of many people. For instance, rather than starting a new organization, an agent could buy an existing company or become a top manager at a non-profit organization. They can then use the organization they now control. It can also work with quasi-organizations or even reputed names, stars, and brands. Anything that has been previously routinized so that there is an imprint in many people's brains can be used for social action. However, entrepreneurs must learn to use social structures for productive purposes. 

Entrepreneurs use structures for modalities like:

  • power or ownership allowing for domination
  • interpretive schemes and cognition; concerned with signification
  • norms and sanctions; concerned with legitimation

Acquiring a supplier can provide a company with greater control over its inputs. Vertical integration can result in improved efficiency in the production process and more consistent quality of materials. By owning the supplier, the entrepreneur can better manage its supply chain and ensure access to the resources it needs to operate effectively. Additionally, owning a supplier can provide a strategic advantage by reducing the bargaining power of other firms in the industry.

Signification: Regarding the second idea, aligning with an existing cause like environmentalism can be a powerful way for an entrepreneur to communicate the significance of their venture. Consumers and investors are increasingly interested in supporting companies that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. By demonstrating a commitment to these values, an entrepreneur can differentiate their venture from competitors and attract support from stakeholders who share these ideals and fears. Furthermore, aligning with a cause can provide a sense of purpose and meaning to the entrepreneur and their team, which can motivate success.

Legitimation. Joining an incubator or accelerator can be an effective way for an entrepreneur to legitimize their venture and attract venture capital. Incubators and accelerators support early-stage ventures, including mentorship, network access, and funding opportunities. By participating in one of these programs, an entrepreneur can show that experienced professionals have vetted their venture and are worthy of investment. This can provide a level of credibility that may otherwise take time to achieve. Participating in an incubator or accelerator can provide valuable learning experiences and help entrepreneurs refine their strategies and business models.

The second pathway is to try to create new imprints. This requires that the entrepreneur build a new structures in the minds of many people. Building new structures usually requires routinization over time, making it a potentially more challenging path to pursue. Because the pioneer has to education everyone about the venture, they eventually succeed, but are overcome by others that jump on the wagon a bit later when the market has already developed.

This part of the theory if very related to the emancipation theory. Entrepreneurs engage in work at all three levels. As entrepreneurs develop and use social structures to enact social change, they also reinforce and modify the routines associated with those structures. So they don't just use institutions, they also change them and reinforce them.  


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