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Klaus Weber
Translation in Action: Global and Local Templates in Technology Entrepreneurship


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A cultural dimension of economic globalization is the proliferation of seemingly universal templates for economic action. One example is “technology-based entrepreneurship,” which is increasingly presented as a recipe for international development and national competitiveness. But what does it mean to perform technology entrepreneurship? The lecture develops a micro-phenomenological answer to this question. The case of the nascent Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Nairobi, Kenya, shows how participants construct contradictory ideal-typical representations (templates) of entrepreneurship that are coded as global and local. Ethnographic and semiotic methods are used to understand the contrasting content of these templates, and the strategies that participants adopt to manage resulting tensions in interactions with each other. Each strategy, however, gives rise to unintended consequences that prevent the resolution of tensions that are ultimately grounded in differences at the institutional rather than pragmatic level.
Selected publications
  • Weber, K., Heinze, K. L., DeSoucey, M.: Forage for Thought: Mobilizing Codes in the Movement for Grass-Fed Meat and Dairy Products. In: Administrative Science Quarterly 53(3), 529-567 (2008).

  • Weber, K., Davis, G. F., Lounsbury, M.: Policy as Myth and Ceremony? The Global Spread of Stock Exchanges, 1980–2005. In: Academy of Management Journal 52(6), 1.319-1.347 (2009).

  • Weber, K., Dacin, M. T.: The Cultural Construction of Organizational Life. In: Organization Science 22(2), 287-298 (2011).

  • Weber, K., Glynn, M. A.: Making Sense with Institutions: Context, Thought and Action in Karl Weick’s Theory. In: Organization Studies 27(11), 1.639-1.660 (2006).

  • Weber, K., Rao, H., Thomas, L. G.: From Streets to Suites: How the Anti-biotech Movement Affected German Pharmaceutical Firms. In: American Sociological Review 74(1), 106-127 (2009).

  • Giorgi, S., Weber, K.: Marks of Distinction Framing and Audience Appreciation in the Context of Investment Advice. In: Administrative Science Quarterly 60(2), 333-367 (2015).

    Suggested publication for preparatory reading
  • Meyer, J. W., Boli, J., Thomas, G. M., Ramirez, F. O.: World Society and the Nation State. In: American Journal of Sociology 103, 144-181 (1997).
  • Swidler, A.: Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies. In: American Sociological Review 51, 273-286 (1986).

    Klaus Weber is an Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at Northwestern University. His research is grounded in cultural and institutional analysis, with substantive interests in the political economy of globalization, the intersection between social movements and the economy, sustainability and social enterprise.
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