Entrepreneurial Teams

My colleague Gordon Smith, who is a professor of corporate law at the University of Wisconsin and major domo of the corporate law blog called Conglomerate, posted an interesting item yesterday about growing research into entrepreneurial teams:
Understanding teams is a burgeoning area of entrepreneurship research, inspired by the recognition that the "heroic entrepreneur" is largely mythical. Practically speaking, all successful entrepreneurs work in teams. It seems to me that this fact holds some potential interest for legal scholars. The structure of an entrepreneurial team must be influenced by available legal forms. Consider this:

Henry Ford has an idea for a car. The Dodge brothers have a machine shop. They want to form a relationship. What are the options?

Notice that your answer to that question likely involves a list of legal relationships: partners; employer-employee; principal-independent contractor; shareholders; joint venturers; etc. We could abolish all of these forms and allow people to create relationships from scratch, but it wouldn't take long before patterns started to emerge. At some point, we would give names to the patterns, and voila! We would have legal forms again. As a result, I assume that law must have something interesting to say about the composition and structure of entrepreneurial teams. (Or not. Maybe law just reduces the transaction costs of contracting and doesn't affect the shape of teams at all.)

I wonder: does the menu of legal forms vary enough from one country to the next that we might think of some countries as being superior to others in their ability to encourage entrepreneurial team formation?

Re-read that passage again, but do two things when you do: First, don't limit the menu of relationships to "legal forms," since legal forms are just reified species of social patterns, and social patterns come in a lot of different flavors, legal and otherwise. Second, in Gordon's last question, substitute "region" for "country" :
"Does the menu of social patterns vary enough from one region to the next that we might think of some countries as being superior to others in their ability to encourage entrepreneurial team formation?"

Pittsburgh would very much like to know the answer to that question!


1 Response to "Entrepreneurial Teams"

Jason said... 12/15/2005 11:16 AM

1. Many business people in the Pittsburgh region suffer from finite pie disease. Even those in fast growing, national markets feel that sharing resources ($$$ and IP) with a partner or team member automatically means less for me.

2. The resources and opportunities to create these entrepreneurial teams in Pittsburgh are abundant. The regional pie in potential entrepreneurial teammates is growing, even though the economy and population are not.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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