Follow Which Leader? Mimetic Isomorphism Across Space

Willamette professor and fellow Rutgers awardee Colin Birkhead and I are curious about the question of why firms might choose to structure themselves as employee-owned. We decided to look specifically at U.S. breweries, many of which are employee-owned. Here is the first paragraph of the abstract for that paper, which we are preparing for submission to a management or sociology journal by the end of 2022.

New entrants in established industries  benefit from observing the routines and structures of incumbent organizations.  Yet incumbent organizations display a variety of routines and structures based on the availability and distribution of resources in local environments.  This menu of observed characteristics can disorient new entrants who may be unable to determine which incumbent offers the “best” blueprint.  Likewise, new entrants may be unable to interpret the resource landscape adequately and may attempt to occupy a resource space that is already densely populated.  Given these complexities, how do new entrants select characteristics to maximize their own odds of success and longevity? This paper examines the institutional and resource dependence motivations for reproducing the characteristics widely observed in a population. We examine the population of craft breweries in the United States between 2013 and 2019.

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