Entrepreneurship in Regulated Markets: Framing Contests and Collective Action to Introduce Pay TV in the U.S.

In their endeavor to establish new products and services, entrepreneurs can face strong resistance from market incumbents whose resources and market position they threaten. This paper looks at the battles between entrepreneurs and market incumbents in a regulated market where various institutional actors (e.g., regulators, courts) have the power to protect the incumbents by hindering the entrepreneurs. Our comparison of one failed and one successful attempt to introduce pay TV in the U.S. reveals how entrepreneurs can first enter a regulated market without facing resistance, and then introduce a new frame to legitimize their product or service despite growing resistance from incumbents. Our framework highlights framing as a strategy and framing contests as a mechanism through which entrepreneurs and incumbents can battle to enable or disable institutional change. As part of this process, we also uncover how entrepreneurs evolve from self-serving actors with no field-level intentions to powerful groups that create a ripple effect in their environment by moving their target of influence from private to institutional actors. Our work constitutes a step toward a more “realistic” tale of institutional change.

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Academy of Management Journal
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