Martin Ruef

Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan Distinguished 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

Aldrich, Howard, Martin Ruef, and Stephen Lippmann. Organizations Evolving (3rd Edition). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2020.

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 M. Lounsbury. The Sociology of Entrepreneurship. Vol. 25. New York: Elsevier, 2007.

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

Scott, W. R., M. Ruef, P. J. Mendel, and C. A. Caronna. Institutional Change and Healthcare Organizations: From Professional Dominance to Managed Care. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Ruef, M. “The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860.” The Historian. Blackwell Publishing Inc., June 1, 2017. Full Text

Ruef, M. “The Port Royal Experiment: A Case Study in Development.” Journal of Southern History, 2016.

Ruef, M. “Human Capital, Inter-Firm Mobility, and Organizational Evolution.” Contemporary Sociology. American Sociological Association, 2009.

Ruef, M. “Social Movements and Organization Theory.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 2005.


Ruef, M., and M. Nag. “The Classification of Organizational Forms: Theory and Application to the Field of Higher Education.” In Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education, edited by M. Kirst and M. Stevens, 84–109. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015.

Ruef, M. “The Human and Financial Capital of the Southern Middle Class, 1850-1900.” In The Southern Middle Class in the Long Nineteenth Century, edited by J. D. Wells and J. R. Green, 202–24. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2011.

Ruef, M. “Entrepreneurial Groups.” In Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research, edited by H. Landstrom and F. Lohrke, 205–28. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2010.

Ruef, M., B. Bonikowski, and H. Aldrich. “Business Owner Demography, Human Capital, and Social Networks.” In New Firm Creation in the United States, edited by P. D. Reynolds and R. T. Curtin, 95–114. New York: Springer, 2009.

Ruef, M. “Reason and Rationalization: Modes of Argumentation among Health Care Professionals.” In The Cultural Turn: Perspectives on Communicative Practices in Workplaces and Professions., edited by C. Thralls and M. Zachry, 93–111. Amityville, NY: Baywood Press, 2007.

Ruef, M. “Karl Mannheim.” In Encyclopedia of Sociology, edited by G. Ritzer, 2756–59. London: Blackwell, 2007.

Ruef, M. “Organizational Ecology.” In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management, Organizational Behavior, edited by N. Nicholson, P. G. Audia, and M. M. Pillutla, 285–89. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006.

Aldrich, H., N. Carter, and M. Ruef. “Startup Teams.” In Handbook of Entrepreneurial Dynamics: The Process of Organizational Creation, edited by W. B. Gartner, K. Shaver, N. Carter, and P. Reynolds, 299–310. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2004.

Ruef, M. “At the Interstices of Organizations: The Expansion of the Management Consulting Profession, 1933-97.” In The Expansion of Management Knowledge: Carriers, Flows, and Sources, edited by K. Sahlin-Andersson and L. Engwall. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.

Aldrich, H., and M. Ruef. “Unicorns, Gazelles, and Other Distractions on the Way to Understanding Real Entrepreneurship in America.” Academy of Management Perspectives 32, no. 4 (2018): 458–458. Full Text

Ruef, M., and Angelina Grigoryeva. “Jim Crow, Ethnic Enclaves, and Status Attainment: Occupational Mobility among U.S. Blacks, 1880-1940.” American Journal of Sociology 124, no. 3 (2018): 814–59. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Ecological and Rational Choice Models of Endogenous Change.” Rationality and Society 29, no. 1 (2017): 55–62. Full Text

Wezel, F., and M. Ruef. “Agents with Principles: The Control of Labor in the Dutch East India Company, 1700-1796.” American Sociological Review 82, no. 5 (2017): 1009–36. Full Text

Kwon, S. -. W., and M. Ruef. “The Imprint of Labor Markets on Entrepreneurial Performance.” Journal of Business Venturing 32, no. 6 (2017): 611–26. Full Text

Ruef, M., and S. W. Kwon. “Neighborhood Associations and Social Capital.” Social Forces 95, no. 1 (2016): 159–90. Full Text

Godfrey, P., J. Hassard, E. O’Connor, M. Rowlinson, and M. Ruef. “What is Organizational History? Towards a Creative Synthesis of History and Organization Studies.” Academy of Management Review 41, no. 4 (2016): 590–608. Full Text

Grigoryeva, A., and M. Ruef. “The Historical Demography of Racial Segregation.” American Sociological Review 80, no. 4 (2015): 814–42. Full Text


Ruef, M. “Reply to Critics -- Between Slavery and Capitalism.” In Trajectories, 28:41–44. ASA Section on Comparative and Historical Sociology, 2016.

Ruef, M. “Organizational Sociology has a Past ... Does it Have a Future?” In Work in Progress. ASA Section on Organizations, Occupations, and Work, 2014.

Ruef, M., and A. Harness. “The Myth of Modern Management: Roman and Antebellum Management Ideology in Comparative Perspective.” In Academy of Management 2007 Annual Meeting: Doing Well by Doing Good, Aom 2007, 2007.

Aldrich, H. E., N. M. Carter, and M. Ruef. “With Very Little Help From Their Friends: Gender and Relational Composition of Nascent Entrepreneurs' Startup Teams.” In Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, 156–69, 2002.