Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Michael Mayerfeld Bell


Previous research on entrepreneurship has tended to focus on the levels of individual agency and social and economic structures, effectively holding culture constant. This study focuses on the socio-cultural processes of entrepreneurship, rather than on the rationalized role of individual actors. I argue that entrepreneurship is best defined as the social process of materializing an idea, and that culture is central to that social process. The distinctions between growth strategies of entrepreneurship, commonly used in the business literature, are as much cultural as economic in nature. All entrepreneurship is subject to cultural elements I call community lifestyles, cultural pockets, and the cultural context of community. Entrepreneurship dynamically creates and maintains culture in a community context. This dissertation illustrates and develops these concepts through a qualitative study of entrepreneurship in Ames, Iowa---an urban community in the Midwest. I interviewed 80 people involved in creating over 30 businesses in Ames. The businesses ranged from small family businesses to large corporations. I not only interviewed the founders of businesses, but also their family members, friends, and others that helped materialize their ideas. I present a historical review of research on entrepreneurship at the levels of agency, structure, and culture. Looking toward the future I hope this dissertation adds to the sociological dialogue on entrepreneurship in a way that is useful at several levels including theory, methods, application, and education.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Gregory Alan Peter



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

181 pages

Included in

Sociology Commons