The Control of High-skill Labor and Entrepreneurship in the Early U.S. Semiconductor Industry

Stephen Appold
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore
10 Kent Ridge Crescent
Singapore 119260

Studies of entrepreneurship increasingly focus on the context of entrepreneurship, rather than on the characteristics of the entrepreneur.  Arguing that the inability of particular firms to control high-skill labor is responsible for a critical component of contemporary entrepreneurship   technologically-based spinoffs   this paper provides a theoretical basis for the effects of career dynamics on entrepreneurship.  A theory of entrepreneurship, drawing on human capital theory, skills-opportunity theory, and internal labor market theory, links declines in firm market share to a disequilibrium in labor market matches.  That imbalance leads to the breakdown of control and the consequent generation of spin-offs.  Combining theory with qualitative and quantitative evidence, support is drawn from a study of the U.S. semiconductor industry from its beginning until its early maturity in the mid-1970s.

Environment and Planning A 32: 2133-2160 (2000)

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