Employee Profile

Peter Kalum Schou

Associate Professor - Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship


Schou, Peter Kalum (2024)

Unpacking the myth of the entrepreneurial state

Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 21 Doi: 10.1016/j.jbvi.2024.e00454 - Full text in research archive

The idea of The Entrepreneurial State, a state that acts as an entrepreneur, creating and shaping markets to solve certain missions, has captured the eye of the public and of scholars. Yet, a number of scholars have voiced critique of The Entrepreneurial State Paradigm, arguing that it leads to policy failure. But simultaneously, other scholars argue that policy failures stem from interpretation and poor implementation, rather than core ideas in The Entrepreneurial State, such as mission-oriented policies. In this paper, I seek to clarify this debate. I argue that the growing reports of mission-oriented policy failures are due to three factors nested in The Entrepreneurial State Paradigm. They are 1) Disregard of the role of private entrepreneurship; 2) Encouraging policy makers to disregard limits to government action, and 3) Extrapolating grand policies from limited results. Thus, I argue that registered policy failures do not stem merely from bad policy making or incorrect interpretations of The Entrepreneurial State Paradigm. They stem directly from this paradigm. Consequently, I argue that scholars and policy makers should move away from The Entrepreneurial State and instead focus on the enabling role of the state.

Schou, Peter Kalum & Nesheim, Torstein (2024)

What We Do in the Shadows: How expert workers reclaim control in digitalized and centralized organizations through ‘stealth work’

Organization Studies, 45(5), s. 719- 744. Doi: 10.1177/01708406241233175 - Full text in research archive

Organizations often depend on experts to carry out complex tasks that require specialized or tacit knowledge. Yet, organizations often want to increase their control over how tasks are performed and thus reduce the autonomy of experts. In the past, scholars have argued that experts had the ability to rebuff organizational attempts to control them. However, in an era with increased digitalization and centralization in organizations, experts risk losing control. How experts react when facing this increased centralization and digitalization is not well understood. Thus, this study seeks to improve knowledge on how experts react as organizations digitalize and centralize control over tasks. To do so, we studied a large energy company, which sought to increase its control over tasks and reduce the autonomy of its expert engineers by implementing an organizational change that included centralization and digital control. Using in-depth interviews, we portray how the expert workers reclaimed control using three micro-level tactics – strategic compliance and workaround, using legacy to reclaim control and concealing expert control. Based on these findings, our paper makes three contributions to the literature on experts and control. First, we provide the concept of ‘stealth work’, outlining how experts can reclaim control when centralization and digitalization have otherwise stripped them of status and power. Second, we highlight how expert control may be nested in organizations as a legacy, which experts can use when facing centralization and digitalization, and finally, we highlight how experts can engage in small hacks that curb the usefulness of digital control systems.

Wiig, Heidi; Schou, Peter Kalum & Hansen, Birte Malene Tangeraas (2024)

Scaling the great wall: how women entrepreneurs in China overcome cultural barriers through digital affordances

Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 36, s. 294- 311. Doi: 10.1080/08985626.2023.2261393 - Full text in research archive

Women in patriarchal societies face cultural barriers hindering them in pursuing entrepreneurship. For example, women are hindered by gender roles, male dominated networks and expectations that they take of the family. Recently, scholars have argued that digital technologies may provide women with avenues to bypass these barriers. Yet, there is little knowledge about how female entrepreneurs engage with digital tools, and how this may help them bypass gendered, cultural barriers. Using 18 interviews with female entrepreneurs in Beijing and Shanghai, we identify four affordances (virtual networking, online learning, opportunity creation and scaling-up) that women use to overcome the cultural barriers to entrepreneurship. We find that through engaging these affordances, the women feel empowered and able to challenge traditional structures. Our paper contributes to recent work in digital and women entrepreneurship as we unpack how women actively create affordances, such as female friendly communities, and how they skilfully use new digital technologies to try to disrupt traditional industries.

Schou, Peter Kalum & Adarkwah, Gilbert Kofi (2023)

Digital communities of inquiry: How online communities support entrepreneurial opportunity development

Journal of Small Business Management Doi: 10.1080/00472778.2023.2236177 - Full text in research archive

In recent years, scholars have argued that entrepreneurs develop opportunities through social engagement in communities of peers. These entrepreneurial communities of peers, so-called communities of inquiry, are moving from the physical to the virtual realm as digital technologies proliferate society and entrepreneurial processes. However, little is known about how entrepreneurs partake in online communities and how this partaking may affect opportunity development. To improve knowledge on this matter, we analyzed 18,670 comments from four different entrepreneurship communities on Reddit. We find that online communities support entrepreneurial opportunity development by providing feedback, emotional support, and models that reduce uncertainty. By unpacking how online communities may support opportunity development, the paper contributes to the nascent stream on the social aspects of opportunity development and to the growing interest in digital entrepreneurship.

Bucher, Eliane; Schou, Peter Kalum & Waldkirch, Matthias (2023)

Just Another Voice in the Crowd? Investigating Digital Voice Formation in the Gig Economy

Academy of Management Discoveries Doi: 10.5465/amd.2022.0112

Voice is crucial for workers as it enables them to better their organizations and exert some degree of control over managerial decision-making. Yet, as workers increasingly find jobs on digital platforms in the gig economy, traditional channels of voice are being replaced by digital voice channels, such as online communities. To add knowledge on how voice takes form on such channels, we collected conversation data from two online communities, which function as official (Upwork community) and unofficial (Reddit community) digital voice channels for gig workers active on Upwork. Based on a qualitative analysis of both communities, we discovered that when gig workers voice in digital channels, they tend to frame their voice¸ including signals of status and group membership. This voice framing creates different factions, which then engage in voice modulation, amplifying in-group members and muting outgroup members. Thereby, our study teases out how voice takes form in digital channels and how it differs from voice in traditional organizations. Our study contributes to the growing research at the intersection of voice and digital platforms.

Schou, Peter Kalum (2023)

Coming Apart While Scaling Up – Adoption of Logics and the Fragmentation of Organizational Identity in Science-Based Ventures

Journal of Management Studies, 60(3), s. 688- 721. Doi: 10.1111/joms.12908 - Full text in research archive

When trying to commercialize, science-based ventures often face contradicting institutional logics. While stakeholders appreciate scientific ability, they also increasingly demand concessions to a commercial logic focusing on efficiency and profit. To satisfy stakeholders, science-based ventures must adapt their organizational identity to include the commercial logic. The study investigates this challenge, relying on a 24-month in-depth study of a venture in the photonics industry. Based on the findings, I developed a process model that outlines how the logics shift from compatibility to incompatibility during the adoption process, thereby causing the organizational identity to fragment. The paper contributes to research streams on organizational identity processes, dynamics of institutional logics in organizations, and scaling of science-based ventures.

Schou, Peter Kalum & Bucher, Eliane (2022)

Divided we fall: The breakdown of gig worker solidarity in online communities

New technology, work and employment Doi: 10.1111/ntwe.12260 - Full text in research archive

The ‘gig economy’ presents a contested new work arrangement where freelancers find work on digital platforms. Subsequently, previous research has investigated how gig workers develop solidarity and take collective action against the exploitative practices of the platforms. However, this research is limited by mostly focusing on solidarity in contexts of local gig worker communities. We investigate whether freelancers who work on a global platform, Upwork, which hires people for diverse and complex jobs, can build up solidarity in a global online community. Applying a mixed-methods research design, we analysed how gig workers responded to a policy change by Upwork that affected their working conditions negatively. In doing so, we outline how solidarity breaks down in an online community of gig workers, due to them realising different interests and identities. We contribute to recent discussions on solidarity in the gig economy, and online communities as tools for organising.

Jones, Marius & Schou, Peter Kalum (2022)

Structuring the Start-up: How Coordination Emerges in Start-ups through Learning Sequencing

Academy of Management Journal Doi: 10.5465/amj.2021.0149 - Full text in research archive

To succeed in growing and scaling their organization, start-ups must establish roles, routines, rules, and plans that coordinate organizational activities. However, early-stage start-ups often lack such coordination mechanisms. Through a longitudinal qualitative multiple-case study of five start-ups, we develop an emergent theoretical framework for how start-ups develop and improve coordination over time. We find that start-ups establish coordination through a learning sequence consisting of four distinct learning styles. To develop coordination successfully, start-ups anticipate coordination problems before they escalate, steal ideas and frameworks from others, experimentally implement coordination, and combine and simplify coordination mechanisms. By providing a processual understanding of how start-ups develop coordination, we contribute to the literature on coordination in start-ups, which has tended towards static explanations. We also add to the literatures on emergent coordination and organizational learning, as we highlight the role of deliberate learning in developing coordination, and how different learning styles link together to create learning sequences.

Bucher, Eliane; Schou, Peter Kalum, Waldkirch, Matthias, Grünwald, Eduard & Antons, David (2021)

Structuring the Haystack: Studying Online Communities with Dictionary-Based Supervised Text Analysis and Network Visualization

Symon, Gillian; Pritchard, Katrina & Hine, Christine (red.). Research Methods for Digital Work and Organization: Investigating Distributed, Multi-Modal, and Mobile Work

Meurer, Madeleine; Waldkirch, Matthias, Schou, Peter Kalum, Bucher, Eliane & Burmeister-Lamp, Katrin (2021)

Digital affordances: how entrepreneurs access support in online communities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Small Business Economics, 58, s. 637- 663. Doi: 10.1007/s11187-021-00540-2

COVID-19 has caused significant and unforeseen problems for entrepreneurs. While entrepreneurs would normally seek social support to help deal with these issues, due to social distancing, physical networks are often not available. Consequently, entrepreneurs must turn to alternative support sources, such as online communities, raising the question of how support is created in such spaces. Drawing on an affordance perspective, we investigate how entrepreneurs interact with online communities and base our qualitative analysis on conversation data (76,365 posts) from an online community of entrepreneurs on Reddit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings draw out four affordances that online communities offer to entrepreneurs (resolving problems, reframing problems, reflecting on situations, refocusing thinking and efforts), resulting in a framework of entrepreneurial support creation in online communities. Thus, our study contributes to debates around (1) entrepreneurs’ support during COVID-19 and (2) digital affordances in the entrepreneurship context.

Waldkirch, Matthias; Bucher, Eliane, Schou, Peter Kalum & Grünwald, Eduard (2021)

Controlled by the algorithm, coached by the crowd–how HRM activities take shape on digital work platforms in the gig economy

International Journal of Human Resource Management, 32(12), s. 1- 36. Doi: 10.1080/09585192.2021.1914129 - Full text in research archive

An increasing number of workers turn to digital platforms – such as Fiverr, Freelancer, and Upwork – as an alternative to traditional work arrangements. Digital platforms govern how gig workers join, move through, and leave platforms – often with the help of self-learning algorithms. While digital platforms and algorithms take on HRM practices, we know little about how HRM activities unfold on digital work platforms in the gig economy. The study therefore aims to understand how HRM activities apply to and take shape on digital platforms by studying worker perceptions. We combine supervised text analysis with an in-depth qualitative content analysis, relying on 12’924 scraped comments from an online forum of workers on Upwork. We outline five conversations on HRM practices that pertain to access and mobility, training and development, scoring and feedback, appraisal and control and platform literacy and support. Based on these findings, we build five propositions about how digital work platforms employ HRM activities. Our paper contributes to recent work on HRM on digital platforms by (1) developing a new mixed-methods approach that illustrates how the content of HRM practices may differ from traditional organizations, (2) highlighting the changing role of actors in creating HRM practices by introducing the concept of ‘crowd-created’ HRM practices, and (3) conceptualizing how digital platforms employ a ‘hybrid HRM approach’.

Schou, Peter Kalum; Bucher, Eliane & Waldkirch, Matthias (2021)

Entrepreneurial learning in online communities

Small Business Economics, 1, s. 1- 22. Doi: 10.1007/s11187-021-00502-8 - Full text in research archive

New digital technologies possess the potential to transform entrepreneurial processes, such as how entrepreneurs pursue opportunities and access funding and how they learn. How entrepreneurs learn may be transformed as digital technologies provide new spaces for learning, such as online communities. Online communities can gather thousands of participants and provide entrepreneurs with new opportunities for learning that are not limited by time, space, or social class. Yet, we know little about how entrepreneurs take advantage of the new digital opportunities of learning. To remedy this, we studied a large online community of entrepreneurs on Reddit (r/startups), where we qualitatively analyzed the top-voted 100 threads from 2018 to 2019 (10,277 comments in total). By drawing on coactive vicarious learning, a theory that describes how learning is socially constructed through discursive interactions, we outline how entrepreneurial learning is socially constructed through conversations, which are taking place in different micro-learning contexts. Through identifying distinct entrepreneurial learning conversations, we build new theory on entrepreneurial learning in online communities. Our theorizing contributes to (1) the growing research on how entrepreneurial learning is socially constructed in communities, (2) the current debate on knowledge creation in online communities, and (3) the knowledge on how coactive vicarious learning unfolds in communities.

Schou, Peter Kalum (2020)

Towards a contingency theory of how network structures influence the entrepreneurial process

Academy of Management Proceedings, 1 Doi: 10.5465/ambpp.2020.13165abstract

Bucher, Eliane; Schou, Peter Kalum & Waldkirch, Matthias (2020)

Pacifying the Algorithm – Anticipatory compliance in the face of algorithmic management in the gig economy

Organization Doi: 10.1177/1350508420961531 - Full text in research archive

Algorithmic management is used to govern digital work platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr. However, algorithmic decision-making is often non-transparent and rapidly evolving, forcing workers to constantly adapt their behavior. Extant research focuses on how workers experience algorithmic management, while often disregarding the agency that workers exert in dealing with algorithmic management. Following a sociomateriality perspective, we investigate the practices that workers develop to comply with (assumed) mechanisms of algorithmic management on digital work platforms. Based on a systematic content analysis of 12,294 scraped comments from an online community of digital freelancers, we show how workers adopt direct and indirect “anticipatory compliance practices”, such as undervaluing their own work, staying under the radar, curtailing their outreach to clients and keeping emotions in check, in order to ensure their continued participation on the platform, which takes on the role of a shadow employer. Our study contributes to research on algorithmic management by (1) showing how workers adopt practices aimed at “pacifying” the platform algorithm; (2) outlining how workers engage in extra work; (3) showing how workers co-construct the power of algorithms through their anticipatory compliance practices.

Academic Degrees
Year Academic Department Degree
2018 Copenhagen Business School PhD