Martin Ruef

Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan Professor of Entrepreneurship

External Address: 
344 Soc Psych Bldg,, Box 90088, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 660-5792


My research considers the social context of entrepreneurship from both a contemporary and historical perspective. I draw on large-scale surveys of entrepreneurs in the United States to explore processes of team formation, innovation, exchange, and boundary maintenance in nascent business startups. My historical analyses address entrepreneurial activity and constraint during periods of profound institutional change. This work has considered a diverse range of sectors, including the organizational transformation of Southern agriculture and industry after the Civil War, African American entrepreneurship under Jim Crow, the transition of the U.S. healthcare system from professional monopoly to managed care, and the character of entrepreneurship during early mercantile and industrial capitalism.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Stanford University 1999

  • M.A., Stanford University 1994

  • B.S., Virginia Polytech Institute and State University 1990

Ruef, M., and M. Lounsbury. The Sociology of Entrepreneurship. Vol. 25, Elsevier, 2007.

Aldrich, H., and M. Ruef. Organizations Evolving (2nd Edition). Sage, 2006.

Ruef, Martin. “Slavery in the North: Forgetting History and Recovering Memory.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. forthcoming, University of Chicago Press, 2020.

Ruef, M. “The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860.” The Historian, vol. 79, no. 2, Blackwell Publishing Inc., 1 June 2017, pp. 352–53. Manual, doi:10.1111/hisn.12527. Full Text

Ruef, M. “The Port Royal Experiment: A Case Study in Development.” Journal of Southern History, vol. 82, no. 1, 2016, pp. 185–86.

Ruef, M. “Between Monopoly and Free Trade: The English East India Company, 1600-1757.” Contemporary Sociology, vol. 44, no. 6, 2015, pp. 794–96. Manual, doi:10.1177/0094306115609925l. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Human Capital, Inter-Firm Mobility, and Organizational Evolution.” Contemporary Sociology, vol. 38, no. 1, American Sociological Association, 2009, pp. 90–92.

Ruef, M. “The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement..” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 111, no. 4, 2006, pp. 1243–45. Manual, doi:10.1086/502999. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Social Movements and Organization Theory.” Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 4, 2005, pp. 651–52.

Ruef, M. “Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy.” Social Forces, vol. 81, no. 3, 2003, pp. 1069–71. Manual, doi:10.1353/sof.2003.0043. Full Text

Ruef, M. “The Twenty-First-Century Firm: Changing Economic Organization in International Perspective.” Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 47, no. 4, 2002, pp. 729–31. Manual, doi:10.2307/3094916. Full Text


Ruef, M., and M. Nag. “The Classification of Organizational Forms: Theory and Application to the Field of Higher Education.” Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education, edited by M. Kirst and M. Stevens, Stanford University Press, 2015, pp. 84–109.

Ruef, M. “The Human and Financial Capital of the Southern Middle Class, 1850-1900.” The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by J. D. Wells and J. R. Green, LSU Press, 2011, pp. 202–24.

Ruef, M. “Entrepreneurial Groups.” Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research, edited by H. Landstrom and F. Lohrke, Edward Elgar, 2010, pp. 205–28.

Ruef, M., et al. “Business Owner Demography, Human Capital, and Social Networks.” New Firm Creation in the United States, edited by P. D. Reynolds and R. T. Curtin, Springer, 2009, pp. 95–114.

Ruef, M. “Reason and Rationalization: Modes of Argumentation among Health Care Professionals.” The Cultural Turn: Perspectives on Communicative Practices in Workplaces and Professions., edited by C. Thralls and M. Zachry, Baywood Press, 2007, pp. 93–111.

Ruef, M. “Karl Mannheim.” Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by G. Ritzer, Blackwell, 2007, pp. 2756–59.

Ruef, M. “Organizational Ecology.” The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management, Organizational Behavior, edited by N. Nicholson et al., Wiley-Blackwell, 2006, pp. 285–89.

Aldrich, H., et al. “Startup Teams.” Handbook of Entrepreneurial Dynamics: The Process of Organizational Creation, edited by W. B. Gartner et al., Sage, 2004, pp. 299–310.

Ruef, M. “At the Interstices of Organizations: The Expansion of the Management Consulting Profession, 1933-97.” The Expansion of Management Knowledge: Carriers, Flows, and Sources, edited by K. Sahlin-Andersson and L. Engwall, Stanford University Press, 2002.

Ruef, M. “The Household as a Source of Labor for Entrepreneurs: Evidence from New York City during Industrialization.” Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, vol. forthcoming, Wiley, 2019. Manual, doi:10.1002/sej.1309. Full Text

Aldrich, H., and M. Ruef. “Unicorns, Gazelles, and Other Distractions on the Way to Understanding Real Entrepreneurship in America.” Academy of Management Perspectives, vol. 32, no. 4, Academy of Management, 2018, pp. 458–458. Manual, doi:10.5465/amp.2017.0123. Full Text

Ruef, M., and Angelina Grigoryeva. “Jim Crow, Ethnic Enclaves, and Status Attainment: Occupational Mobility among U.S. Blacks, 1880-1940.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 124, no. 3, University of Chicago Press, 2018, pp. 814–59. Manual, doi:10.1086/701020. Full Text

Rickne, Annika, et al. “The Socially and Spatially Bounded Relationships of Entrepreneurial Activity: Olav Sorenson -- Recipient of the 2018 Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research.” Small Business Economics, vol. 51, no. 3, Springer Verlag, 2018, pp. 515–25. Manual, doi:10.1007/s11187-018-0075-8. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Ecological and Rational Choice Models of Endogenous Change.” Rationality and Society, vol. 29, no. 1, 2017, pp. 55–62. Manual, doi:10.1177/1043463116685664. Full Text

Wezel, F., and M. Ruef. “Agents with Principles: The Control of Labor in the Dutch East India Company, 1700-1796.” American Sociological Review, vol. 82, no. 5, 2017, pp. 1009–36. Manual, doi:10.1177/0003122417718165. Full Text

Kwon, S. .. W., and M. Ruef. “The Imprint of Labor Markets on Entrepreneurial Performance.” Journal of Business Venturing, vol. 32, no. 6, 2017, pp. 611–26. Manual, doi:10.1016/j.jbusvent.2017.08.002. Full Text

Ruef, M., and S. W. Kwon. “Neighborhood Associations and Social Capital.” Social Forces, vol. 95, no. 1, Oxford Journals, 2016, pp. 159–90. Manual, doi:10.1093/sf/sow053. Full Text

Godfrey, P., et al. “What is Organizational History? Towards a Creative Synthesis of History and Organization Studies.” Academy of Management Review, vol. 41, no. 4, Academy of Management, 2016, pp. 590–608. Manual, doi:10.5465/amr.2016.0040. Full Text

Grigoryeva, A., and M. Ruef. “The Historical Demography of Racial Segregation.” American Sociological Review, vol. 80, no. 4, 2015, pp. 814–42. Manual, doi:10.1177/0003122415589170. Full Text


Ruef, M. “Reply to Critics -- Between Slavery and Capitalism.” Trajectories, vol. 28, no. 1, ASA Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology, 2016, pp. 41–44.

Ruef, M. “Organizational Sociology has a Past ... Does it Have a Future?.” Work in Progress, ASA Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work, 2014.

Ruef, M., and A. Harness. “The Myth of Modern Management: Roman and Antebellum Management Ideology in Comparative Perspective.” Academy of Management 2007 Annual Meeting: Doing Well by Doing Good, Aom 2007, 2007.

Aldrich, H. E., et al. “With Very Little Help From Their Friends: Gender and Relational Composition of Nascent Entrepreneurs' Startup Teams.” Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, 2002, pp. 156–69.