I am a field researcher who uses ethnographic methods, critical discourse analysis and quantitative analysis of qualitative data (content analysis, network analysis) to support grounded theorizing in questions of entrepreneurial action and innovation. My scholarship is motivated by my interest in entrepreneurship and social innovation as a means of fostering more equitable, resilient and sustainable communities. In my research, I explore dynamic processes of emergence and evolution, with a particular interest in how power and agency are exercised to shape our social systems and the entrepreneurial opportunities within them.
Field Emergence & Innovation
My primary research stream concerns fields and systems of institutions that enable and constrain innovation. In current research in third revision at a major journal, I and my co-authors investigate how organizations navigate moral conflicts - such as privacy, security and equity - that arise when human genomes are 'datafied'. Our findings help businesses anticipate different types of ethical problems in new markets for personal data (such as health trackers and GPS locators), some of which may be addressed effectively with technology and some which may only be resolvable through socio-political engagement on issues of equity.
In my dissertation, also set in the emerging field of genomic medicine, I investigate how organizations amass and expend power to influence governance in a new field, ultimately configuring these institutions into field infrastructure - invisible, durable systems of control that enable organizations to function in a field. Early findings identify practices, events, and relationships that define what constitutes power in a new field where there are few existing rules. My aim in this project is to shine light on how new systems of power and control are formed, to highlight tensions between innovation and societal well-being that are at the heart of entrepreneurial motivation and action, while suggesting ways entrepreneurs can avoid perpetuating societal inequities through their actions.
An emerging project in this stream (currently in early data collection) inductively explores disruption in the established field of psychotherapy and battles over how a new offshoot will grow and evolve. Resurgent interest in the therapeutic use of psychedelic substances is driving growth of a new professional group - 'psychedelic-assisted therapists' - to deliver therapy, while entrepreneurs instead are using new technologies to scale treatment delivery. Existential conflicts arise in the new field, as members battle over such core questions as the meaning of 'treatment', whether psychedelics are 'medicine' or 'vehicles of transcendence', and whether to prioritize scale or craft for maximum societal benefit. By examining how conflicts over power and meaning shape (or reshape) prevailing practices, I hope to uncover new perspectives for navigating perpetual conflict between scaling organizations in high-growth industries and approaches espoused by small, community-based or artisan/craft organizations, while structuring governance that supports organizational and societal well-being.
Small & Micro Enterprises, Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, and Resilient, Sustainable Communities
A second and related stream of research examines place-based entrepreneurial ecosystems, processes for scaling small- and micro-enterprises, and the role of small business in constructing resilient local economies that support human flourishing. Advanced work in this stream includes a conceptual manuscript on inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems, currently in revision at a major journal, in which I and my co-authors theorize the processes of inclusion to elaborate the fundamental purpose of entrepreneurial ecosystems as 'productive growth' (Spigel & Harrison, 2018) that supports healthier, more equitable communities and social life.
A second project in this stream, funded in part by the Kauffman Foundation and in early data analysis, uses ethnographic observation, interviews and content analysis to examine local power structures and inequities suffered by minority entrepreneurs and non-tech entrepreneurs during the emergence and evolution of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tampa, Florida. This work challenges current theory claiming ecosystems are constructed by entrepreneurs themselves (rather than outsiders), while raising questions regarding elements of healthy, effectively-functioning ecosystems.
Lastly, my newest project (funded and currently in design) expands on questions arising from Tampa to understand how systemic power, racism and ethnic bias embedded in San Antonio's social and political systems influenced agenda-setting in entrepreneurial ecosystem design, processes of entrepreneurial innovation, and outcomes for organizational resilience and well-being in the local economy. This project aims to uncover previously unrecognized sources and processes of small-scale innovation that differ from such highly-visible models of success as Boston, Silicon Valley or Ireland, or resource-scarce models as in Bangladesh. Understanding entrepreneurial resilience and growth in San Antonio may yield insights that support entrepreneurial scaling in similar 'second-tier' cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and New Orleans. By extending scholarly work into the public arena, this project also provides a platform for convening policymakers, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, and community stakeholders in discussions to address historical inequities while supporting homegrown talent development and scaling entrepreneurial growth.
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This website is for the personal and professional use of Celeste Diaz Ferraro. I don't collect any personal information about YOU on this site, however, I do use Google Analytics to track the location and time that visitors arrive at my site, because I'm just darned curious who is interested in my work and who might be checking up on me. To the best of my knowledge, no other information beyond that is tracked, but I am not a Google genius so if they are collecting other information, I really wouldn't know. Google says they try not to be evil, but heck, they're a huge commercial entity making billions of dollars a year, so they are probably doing something I wouldn't approve of anyway. But how are we going to live without them at this point? I don't archive or store any information that might be collected via Google. Blame them if you are creeped out by surveillance. If you would like MY personal information, please feel free to contact me via any of the mechanisms in the contact section, and I would be happy to share it with you. You can also download a copy of my CV and get it there as well. Have a great day!