The process by which individuals become entrepreneurs is often described as a decisive moment of transition, yet it necessarily involves a series of smaller steps. This study examines how human capital and social capital are accumulated and deployed in the earliest stages of the entrepreneurial transition in the setting of “user entrepreneurship.” Using the unique dataset from Ravelry—the Facebook of knitters—I study why and how some knitters become entrepreneurs. I show that knitters who make the entrepreneurial transition are distinctive in that they have experience in fewer techniques and more product categories. I also show that this transition is facilitated by participation in offline social networks where knitters garner feedback and encouragement. Importantly, social and human capital appear to complement each other with social capital producing the greatest effect on the most skilled users. Broader theoretical implications on user innovation, the role of social capital, and entrepreneurship research are discussed.
Never Really One of Us: Commitment-based Typecasting among Knit Designers
(with Pierre Azoulay and Ezra Zuckerman)
We show that “commitment-based typecasting” has two characteristic features: asymmetry in audience valuation and retrospective reevaluation. When a novice performer experiences an “identity shock” that suggests that she is more committed to the audience for one category than another, “betrayed” audience tends to regard her as having always been less committed to the rival audience/category. We test this theory in the domain of knitting, where there is a divide between avant-garde knitters and traditional knitters, and we show that when a novice knit designer is first published in the publication associated with one category, this elicits a retrospective devaluation of her prior work by the audience of the opposing category.
User Entrepreneurship as a Signal of Commitment
(with Jae-kyung Ha)
We often encounter stories that the beginning of a firm is motivated by its founder’s experience as a user, even when the firm is founded by an industry incumbent with professional experiences. In this project, we examine why and when such user-driven motives are employed. Specifically, we argue that firms may employ user motives as a way to express their commitment to serving consumers. By analyzing narrative data of crowdfunding projects and conducting online experiments, we test our idea that entrepreneurs are more likely to adopt user-driven motives in industries where consumers are strongly resistant to firms’ commercial motives and are more likely to raise commitment concerns.
Do Bloggers Pay To Be Bloggers?
A new concept of shared-economy created various unconventional jobs which are flexible on the one hand, yet unstable on the other hand. Motivated by the growing prevalence of independent producers in online platforms, I study how individuals who belong to one of two distinct types of institutions, traditional employment or free production, value the institutions. Preliminary interviews on bloggers show that they value autonomy (contents autonomy, time autonomy, and distribution autonomy) that the institution of free production provides. Based on this observation, I conducted a field experiment in Korean web cartoon markets. Using hypothetical “outside job” offers that both types of cartoonists often receive, the experiment shows that the value of autonomy (i.e., the difference in financial rewards between high autonomy job and low autonomy job) is lower for the cartoonists who get paid by firms in traditional employment arrangement, compared to independent bloggers. Also, I show that the value of autonomy decreases as workers earn more from drawing cartoons, while it increases as they earn more from secondary jobs irrelevant to drawing cartoons.
Business groups may fill institutional voids in emerging economies, but empirical research is lacking as to when and how institutional voids affect economic behavior of individual firms. We examine the effect of institutional voids in capital markets on individual transactions in emerging economies, focusing on M&A deals that were abandoned after being publicly announced. M&A deals may fall through when unexpected information is brought to light or financing difficulties arise. At the country level, capital market development can lower the probability of M&A deal abandonment by facilitating the flow of information and capital. At the firm level, when acquirers are affiliated with business groups, development of internal capital markets can also lower this probability, facilitating completion of the transaction and the flow of information. This effect of business groups, however, decreases as the external capital market, the institution replaced by their internal markets, develops and its benefits become widely available to non-business groups. The results of our empirical analyses on M&A transactions in 9 emerging economies over 21 years support our arguments.
Can technology meet fashion? Identity dilemma of wearable technology
Advances in wearable technology have created abundant opportunities for both fashion and high-technology industry, but these opportunities have not lead to significant market success yet. Based on several recent studies in cultural markets (Carroll and Swaminathan 2000; Zuckerman and Kim, 2003; Kim, Azoulay, and Zuckerman, 2017), the case illustrates an identity divide between possible audience of wearable fashion industry, those who define coolness to be technologically advanced and those who devalue functionality for artistic value. The case has implications for both industry incumbents who seek collaboration opportunities (e.g., Apple Watch by Hermes, Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket, Fitbit by Tory Burch, Tag Heuer Connected) and start-ups that launch their businesses in wearable technology (e.g., Ministry of Supply, Emel+Aris, Thesis Couture).
Amorepacific: Global Roadmap
This case was published as a book chaper in SNU Business Case Series 20 (ISBN 978-89-91292-77-2), Woodumji:Seoul, 2010 (pp85-151). The case is written in both Korean and English. The full paper is attached below in pdf format. Please do not distribute it.
This case was published as a book chaper in SNU Business Case Series 19(ISBN 978-89-91292-76-5), Woodumji:Seoul, 2010 (pp93-143). The case is written in both Korean and English. The full paper is attached below in pdf format. Please do not distribute it.