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Title: Ambiguity and intermediation in the early moments of market formation : the case of the UK social investment market
Author: Casasnovas, Guillermo
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 0890
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Markets are arenas of social interaction for the exchange of products and services that are embedded in specific networks, cultures, and political relations. The study of how new markets come into being is a lively area of scholarly debate, and the purpose of this thesis is to shed light on the dynamics of these early moments of market formation. These nascent markets are characterized by the lack of shared meanings and settled rules around their participants, processes, and infrastructure. I approach them with arguments from economic sociology and from theories of organizations and institutions. The empirical context is a longitudinal study of the UK social investment market from 2000 to 2015, a field that intersects the social, financial, and public sectors. Social investment refers to the combination of financial returns and social impact, but the contest over its meaning and practice is itself a part of this analysis. The core data collection is based on interviews, reports, field events, and online sources, which provide an empirical basis to understand the social, cultural, and political processes that are shaping this market. I build on different traditions in the sociology of markets to explore changes over time in the rules, identities, practices, and dominant actors during the early moments of the UK social investment market. My first main finding is that the initial period of uncontested ambiguity is followed by efforts from mainstream organizations to reduce that ambiguity by reshaping rules and practices. This then results in a period of collaborative contestation, where peripheral actors challenge the core features of the field and hinder the path to stability. The second finding is about the role played by intermediary organizations in nascent markets, which consists of building the market infrastructure by connecting actors, developing a language, and establishing rules and practices. These findings point to the importance of theorizing about ambiguity in the early moments of markets. I contribute to this endeavor by specifying some of its features and dynamics, and by emphasizing the centrality of intermediation. I also further our understanding of those markets that span across the worlds of business, policy, and civil society.
Supervisor: Jenkinson, Tim ; Ventresca, Marc Sponsor: Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship ; Economic and Social Research Council ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Organization Theory ; Mangement ; Sociology of Markets ; Field emergence ; Impact investment ; Ambiguity ; Early moments ; Intermediation ; Nascent markets ; Social investment