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. Between Slavery and Capitalism: The Legacy of Emancipation in the American South. Princeton, NJ,: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Ruef, M. The Entrepreneurial Group: Social Identities, Relations, and Collective Action. Princeton, NJ,: Princeton University Press, 2010.

Ruef, M, and Lounsbury, M. The Sociology of Entrepreneurship. New York,: Elsevier, 2007. (Edited Book)

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

Scott, WR, Ruef, M, Mendel, PJ, and Caronna, CA. Institutional Change and Healthcare Organizations: From Professional Dominance to Managed Care. Chicago,: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Ruef, M. "Slavery in the North: Forgetting History and Recovering Memory." American Journal of Sociology forthcoming (2020).

Ruef, M. "The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860." The Historian 79.2 (June 1, 2017): 352-353. Full Text

Ruef, M. "The Port Royal Experiment: A Case Study in Development." Journal of Southern History 82.1 (2016): 185-186.

Ruef, M. "Human Capital, Inter-Firm Mobility, and Organizational Evolution." Contemporary Sociology 38.1 (2009): 90-92.

Ruef, M. "The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement." American Journal of Sociology 111.4 (2006): 1243-1245. Full Text

Ruef, M. "Social Movements and Organization Theory." Administrative Science Quarterly 50.4 (2005): 651-652.


Ruef, M, and Nag, M. "The Classification of Organizational Forms: Theory and Application to the Field of Higher Education." Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education. Ed. Kirst, M and Stevens, M. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press. 2015. 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. Ed. Wells, JD and Green, JR. Baton Rouge, LA.: LSU Press. 2011. 202-224.

Ruef, M. "Entrepreneurial Groups." Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research. Ed. Landstrom, H and Lohrke, F. Cheltenham, UK.: Edward Elgar. 2010. 205-228.

Ruef, M, Bonikowski, B, and Aldrich, H. "Business Owner Demography, Human Capital, and Social Networks." New Firm Creation in the United States. Ed. Reynolds, PD and Curtin, RT. New York.: Springer. 2009. 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. Ed. Thralls, C and Zachry, M. Amityville, NY.: Baywood Press. 2007. 93-111.

Ruef, M. "Karl Mannheim." Encyclopedia of Sociology. Ed. Ritzer, G. London.: Blackwell. 2007. 2756-2759.

Ruef, M. "Organizational Ecology." The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management, Organizational Behavior. Ed. Nicholson, N, Audia, PG and Pillutla, MM. London.: Wiley-Blackwell. 2006. 285-289.

Aldrich, H, Carter, N, and Ruef, M. "Startup Teams." Handbook of Entrepreneurial Dynamics: The Process of Organizational Creation. Ed. Gartner, WB, Shaver, K, Carter, N and Reynolds, P. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage. 2004. 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. Ed. Sahlin-Andersson, K and Engwall, L. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University Press. 2002.

Aldrich, H, and Ruef, M. "Unicorns, Gazelles, and Other Distractions on the Way to Understanding Real Entrepreneurship in America." Academy of Management Perspectives 32.4 (2018): 458-458. Full Text

Ruef, M, and Grigoryeva, A. "Jim Crow, Ethnic Enclaves, and Status Attainment: Occupational Mobility among U.S. Blacks, 1880-1940." American Journal of Sociology 124.3 (2018): 814-859. Full Text

Ruef, M. "Ecological and Rational Choice Models of Endogenous Change." Rationality and Society 29.1 (2017): 55-62. Full Text

Wezel, F, and Ruef, M. "Agents with Principles: The Control of Labor in the Dutch East India Company, 1700-1796." American Sociological Review 82.5 (2017): 1009-1036. Full Text

Kwon, S-W, and Ruef, M. "The Imprint of Labor Markets on Entrepreneurial Performance." Journal of Business Venturing 32.6 (2017): 611-626. Full Text

Ruef, M, and Kwon, SW. "Neighborhood Associations and Social Capital." Social Forces 95.1 (2016): 159-190. Full Text

Godfrey, P, Hassard, J, O'Connor, E, Rowlinson, M, and Ruef, M. "What is Organizational History? Towards a Creative Synthesis of History and Organization Studies." Academy of Management Review 41.4 (2016): 590-608. Full Text

Grigoryeva, A, and Ruef, M. "The Historical Demography of Racial Segregation." American Sociological Review 80.4 (2015): 814-842. Full Text


Ruef, M. "Reply to Critics -- Between Slavery and Capitalism." American Sociological Association. Seattle.: ASA Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology, 2016.

Ruef, M. "Organizational Sociology has a Past ... Does it Have a Future?." American Sociological Association. San Francisco.: ASA Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work, 2014.

Kim, P, Aldrich, HE, and Ruef, M. "Fruits of Co-Laboring: Effects of Entrepreneurial Team Stability on the Organizational Founding Process." Entrepreneurship Research Conference. Babson College. 2005.

Aldrich, HE, Carter, NM, and Ruef, M. "With Very Little Help From Their Friends: Gender and Relational Composition of Nascent Entrepreneurs' Startup Teams." Entrepreneurship Research Conference. Babson College. 2002.