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The Emergence of Organizations and Markets$
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John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148670

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148670.001.0001

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An Open Elite

An Open Elite

Arbiters, Catalysts, or Gatekeepers in the Dynamics of Industry Evolution?

(p.466) 15 An Open Elite
The Emergence of Organizations and Markets

Walter W. Powell

Jason Owen-Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter follows the trajectory of the life sciences into the present day, focusing on the larger question of industry or field evolution. In a field characterized by “gales of creative destruction,” the chapter considers how some types of organizations have managed to retain a position of centrality even as others exit and many newcomers arrive. It analyzes the emergence of a core group of organizations, diverse in form and function, which they label an “open elite.” The animating question is why this group of organizations, which constituted a structural backbone of the field, did not become ossified gatekeepers but remained active in expansive exploration. The answer is found in their multiconnectivity—the multiple, independent pathways that link research-focused organizations in a wide array of different activities.

Keywords:   open elite, life sciences, industry evolution, field evolution, expansive exploration, multiconnectivity, research-focused organizations

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