Martin Ruef

Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan 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

Ruef, M., and M. Lounsbury. “Introduction: The Sociology of Entrepreneurship.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations 25 (2007): 1–29.

Xu, H., and M. Ruef. “Boundary Formation in Emergent Organizations.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations 25 (2007): 125–53. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Boom and Bust: The Effect of Entrepreneurial Inertia on Organizational Populations.” Advances in Strategic Management 23 (2006): 29–72. Full Text

Ruef, M. “Origins of Organizations: The Entrepreneurial Process.” Research in the Sociology of Work 15 (2005): 63–100. Full Text

Xu, H., and M. Ruef. “The Myth of the Risk-Tolerant Entrepreneur.” Strategic Organization 2, no. 4 (2004): 331–55. Full Text

Ruef, M. “A Sociological Perspective on Strategic Organization.” Strategic Organization 1, no. 2 (2003): 241–51. Full Text

Ruef, M, Aldrich, H, and Carter, N. "The Structure of Founding Teams: Homophily, Strong Ties, and Isolation among U.S. Entrepreneurs." American Sociological Review 68, no. 2 (2003): 195-222.