Building Infrastructure for Entrepreneurship

The Space Between: Building the Infrastructure for Entrepreneurship in Nascent Markets

Jennifer J. Woolley for the Leavey School of Business

First published October 2011

This study examines the creation and configuration of infrastructure for entrepreneurship. Using the case of nanotechnology’s emergence, I show how the three elements of infrastructure, public resource endowments, institutional arrangements, and proprietary functions, are generated by a common set of actors, simultaneously, leading to boundary obfuscation and competition. Entrepreneurs did not wait until a critical mass of infrastructure accumulated but started firms despite the lack of infrastructure. The earliest entrepreneurs endured a trifecta of burdens: their liability of newness, nascent market uncertainty, and ambiguity in the emergence of the technology itself. In exchange, early entrepreneurs were part of the infrastructure creation and configuration process. Additionally, I find that infrastructure is not measured by the number of resources within an element or the efficacy. Infrastructure configures because of interactions between elements, in the space between the actors and elements where boundaries blur.

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