Year of selection 2017
Institution Toulouse School of Economics
Risk New technologies
Which country offers the most optimal state policies for risky entrepreneurship, France or the United States? Where are individuals most likely to take risk when it comes to digital start-ups: in a country with a strong welfare state or in a country with freer markets and less state intervention? By comparing the behaviours of entrepreneurs from two countries with very different state policies, Dr. Jen Schradie aims to shed light on how laws and government regulations factor into individual decisions for risk in the digital economy. The researcher in sociology is particularly interested in how these environments affect entrepreneurship for women and for those from different social classes. Overall, the project looks at how engaging in risk shapes our digital society.
« Scholars have long found how risk shapes economic behavior. We know less about what shapes risk in the digital economy », Dr. Jen Schradie points out, « With companies, such as Airbnb and Uber, the new sharing economy – which brings people together to provide a service – is a very contentious topic at the moment. Some celebrate their success, others protest for job security ». « The number of people to take part in these risky endeavours may be a function of political and cultural differences », she adds. « In France, the Macron labour law reforms (Loi Travail in French) are now asking these very questions about the role of government in entrepreneurship, ». Therefore, looking at the tradeoff between the benefits and disadvantages of the free market and/or strong political interventionism is timely.
Investigating into the world of digital entrepreneurs
« One might expect that a strong state would fail to foster innovation because of potential restrictions on entrepreneurship and innovation », Dr. Jen Schradie points out. « Yet a strong state could also provide workers with a safety net to take personal financial risk and engage in innovation». To enrich our understanding of the impact of state policies on risk-taking when it comes to entrepreneurship, Dr. Jen Schradie’s project will take a close look at several policies: unemployment funds, independent worker tax laws, technology research and development funds, digital technology access, subsidized childcare, universal health care, and flexible labor laws. To assess their impact on individual decisions for risk, taking gender and social class into account, the researcher will conduct her research in three stages. First, she will begin with an ethnographic approach and immerse herself in the world of entrepreneurs. « Ethnography is a powerful way of doing research. It helps to understand the whole picture and the nuances », she says. In the second step, Dr. Jen Schradie will conduct in-depth interviews and surveys. Finally, the last step will consist of a quantitative analysis of metrics between the two countries.
Many presume that technology offers new opportunities for innovative ideas for entrepreneurship. At the same time, the assumption is that the digital economy is transforming business practices – particularly in the sharing economy. In this context, upgrading our understanding of how state policies impact individual decisions for risk in the digital economy is of critical importance. Dr. Jen Schradie‘s innovative aim of providing evidenced-based research on the topic will provide new insight on tomorrow’s economy, as well as a framework for research in other countries. The objective is to provide policy-makers with evidence on how to mediate risk in entrepreneurship and pinpoint potential differences across diverse communities regarding the levels of support and tendencies towards risk.