Entrepreneurship | Organization Theory | Socio-Economic Development

Tim Weiss is an organization and management scholar who believes that academic scholarship can make a difference in the world through problem-oriented research. Tim examines questions at the intersection of organization theory and socio-economic development with a mix of qualitative research methodologies and ethnographic techniques. He explores the cultural conditions that catalyze or limit organization formation and growth in what has conventionally been cast as resource-scarce environments and emerging markets. Broadly speaking, his research can be grouped into three interrelated themes that he explores both with theoretically motivated and phenomenon-driven questions.


1. Cultural Conditions of Organization Creation and Growth

Organizations are key actors in promoting socio-economic development. Although the rationalized organization and with it a wealth of different organizational forms are diffusing globally at unprecedented speeds and scales, we know relatively little about the contextual conditions that enable or limit organization creation on a local level. Similarly, we lack a real understanding of why some organizations can grow while others face remarkably persistent limits to growth, despite ostensibly favorable economic policy changes. Going beyond existing research on the local adoption of organizational forms, Tim carries out theoretical and empirical work to better understand the interaction of established national organizing dynamics with imported forms of organizing. Of particular interest to him are the resulting tensions, unintended outcomes and generative effects — such as backlashes against imported forms or syntheses of old and imported forms into novel configurations — that arise as new ways of organizing are appropriated in a particular locale.

2. Entrepreneurship in “Resource-Scarce” Environments

Creating, commercializing and implementing innovations are daunting tasks, particularly in what have traditionally been known as resource-scarce environments. Little is known about successful or detrimental entrepreneurial behaviors and actions in these settings. What are the soft skills needed to access various resources (i.e., financial and human capital) both in domestic and in international settings? What are the successful brokering strategies needed to create resource abundance in seemingly resource-scarce settings? What are the dominant scaling strategies that work? Tim explores these questions by collecting thick data on technology entrepreneurs in Kenya and grant writers in the highly competitive international development aid sector.

3. Innovative Organizations and Grand Global Challenges

The grand challenges of our time demand that we imagine entirely new organizational solutions and designs, and recent technological advances have opened up opportunities for us to do so. What do innovative organizational solutions and designs that operate from the outset on a global scale look like? What are their core competencies? How are they similar and dissimilar from what is in existence? And what are the determinants that will fuel their creation and growth on a wider scale? Tim explores these questions in his teaching.