Economic Inequality among Entrepreneurs
Purpose - Drawing from social psychology and economics, I propose several mechanisms that may affect ownership stakes among entrepreneurs, including norms of distributive justice, negotiation constraints, and network constraints. The processes are explored empirically for a representative dataset of entrepreneurial teams. Methodology/Approach - Between 1998 and 2000, entrepreneurial teams were sampled from the U.S. population for the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics. I analyze the distribution of ownership stakes at both the individual and group levels. Findings - The results suggest that principles of macrojustice, affecting the distribution of resources in teams as a whole, deviate considerably from principles of microjustice, affecting the resources received by individual entrepreneurs. While aggregate inequality increases in teams that have a diverse set of members, the effect is not reducible to discrimination on the basis of individual status characteristics. Instead, the relational demography of teams - characterized in terms of the degree of closeness in network ties and homogeneity in demographic attributes - serves as a uniquely social predictor of between-group variation in economic inequality. Originality/Value of the paper - Empirical research on inequality has paid little attention to the process of group exchange in organizational start-ups, where entrepreneurs pool resources and skills in return for uncertain or indirect payoffs. This paper offers both theoretical frameworks and empirical analyses to shed light on economic inequality among entrepreneurs.
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