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. “6. Unpacking the liability of aging: Toward a socially-embedded account of organizational disbanding.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations, vol. 19, Dec. 2002, pp. 195–228.

Ruef, M. “Strong Ties, Weak Ties and Islands: Structural and Cultural Predictors of Organizational Innovation.” Industrial and Corporate Change, vol. 11, no. 3, 2002, pp. 427–49. Manual, doi:10.1093/icc/11.3.427. Full Text

Ruef, M. “A Structural Event Approach to the Analysis of Group Composition.” Social Networks, vol. 24, no. 2, 2002, pp. 135–60. Manual, doi:10.1016/S0378-8733(01)00054-5. Full Text

Ruef, M. “The Emergence of Organizational Forms: A Community Ecology Approach.” American Journal of Sociology, vol. 106, no. 3, 2000, pp. 658–714. Manual, doi:10.1086/318963. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Social Ontology and the Dynamics of Organizational Forms: Creating Market Actors in the Healthcare Field, 1966-1994.” Social Forces, vol. 77, no. 4, 1999, pp. 1403–32. Manual, doi:10.1093/sf/77.4.1403. Full Text

Ruef, M., and W. R. Scott. “A Multidimensional Model of Organizational Legitimacy: Hospital Survival in Changing Institutional Environments.” Administrative Science Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 4, 1998, pp. 877–904. Manual, doi:10.2307/2393619. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Assessing Organizational Fitness on a Dynamic Landscape: An Empirical Test of the Relative Inertia Thesis.” Strategic Management Journal, vol. 18, no. 11, 1997, pp. 837–53. Manual, doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0266(199712)18:11<837::AID-SMJ917>3.0.CO;2-B. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Prolegomenon to the Relation between Social Theory and Method.” Journal of Mathematical Sociology, vol. 22, no. 3, 1997, pp. 303–32.

Ruef, M. “The Evolution of Convention: Conformity and Innovation in Task-Oriented Networks.” Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, vol. 2, no. 1, 1996, pp. 5–28. Manual, doi:10.1007/BF00125761. Full Text