Associate Professor of Strategic Management
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street
Dr Marc Ventresca is an economic sociologist in the Strategy, Innovation and Marketing Faculty at Saïd Business School and a Governing Body Fellow of Wolfson College.
Marc's areas of expertise include market and network formation, entrepreneurship, governance, and innovation and technology strategy.
His research and teaching focus on the formation of markets and networks in business and social settings. Specifically, he researches how markets are built and the actors who build them. He is also an expert in the areas of governance, innovation and technology and how they interact with markets and networks.
Trained in sociology and political philosophy, Marc takes a novel approach to researching how markets and networks are formed over time. While many finance colleagues treat market formation as an exit strategy for entrepreneurs who want to realise value from their ventures, Marc sees markets as political and cultural institutions. He uses strategy, sociology, economic theory and organisational theory to understand markets’ existence and underpinnings.
"I don’t assume that markets self organise for a functional reason. In some cases, market formation is a political process, or one driven by emulation," he says. "If one country initiates a successful stock exchange, another country may create a stock exchange to emulate that success, for parity of national ‘status’, or because of provisions by global intermediaries like the IFC. This sociological perspective to markets also takes symbolism and signalling into account.”
Marc is involved with a number of entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives within Oxford. He is academic director for the ‘Science Innovation Plus’ initiative, which is a partnership between Saïd Business School and the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences. This partnership engages sciences doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows with the MBA innovation and entrepreneurial activities. He has supported the School’s annual ‘Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford’ event over the years and frequently participates in the ‘Inspiring Women in Leadership and Learning’ (iwill) initiative. He is founding convenor of the research seminar series ‘Strategies, Institutions and Practices at Saïd’. Marc also acts as an advisor to several technology and social innovation start-ups founded by recent Oxford alumni.
Beyond Oxford, Marc works on various journal editorial boards; he hosts executive education seminars and lectures; he serves as an external assessor at universities around the world and he was a core faculty member for the Goldman Sachs ‘10,000 Women Entrepreneurs’ initiative in the Oxford partnerships with Zhejiang University (Hangzhou China) and with SWUFE (Chengdu China). This programme provided business and management education to women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets.
Marc has held research affiliations at the Oxford Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, the Global Public Policy Academic Group at the Naval Postgraduate School, the Center for Organizational Research at the University of California, the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and the Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication.
Marc earned his BA in political science/political philosophy and two MAs in education policy and sociology, then earned his Ph.D in political and organizational sociology, all from Stanford. He served on the faculty at the Kellogg School of Management and Department of Sociology at Northwestern University for many years before joining Oxford in 2004. He has been a visiting faculty member at the Copenhagen Business School, the University of California at Irvine, the University of Illinois, Stanford University’s School of Engineering (Center for Work, Technology and Organizations) and the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research, among others.
- Innovation strategy
- Organisation theory
- Knowledge and information-intensive industries (ie: higher education, financial services, and media)
- Economic sociology of strategy
- Entrepreneurship and innovation
- Market-building and entrepreneurship
- Social innovation (crowdfunding)
- Research methods (archival analysis, event history analysis, comparative research)
Marc’s main research focuses on market formation, network formation, and the diffusion of governance innovation.
He works both independently and collaboratively with colleagues at the University of Oxford and around the world.
View Marc's research.
Marc is actively engaged in mentoring, guiding and supporting Oxford alumni and others who are launching start-ups in key sectors.
At any given time, he will work as a strategic advisor to two or three start-ups as well as other organisations including the Oxford Entrepreneurs Society.
Marc is highly sought after for his mentorship and advice because of his innovative understanding of entrepreneurial effectiveness and his unique insights into networks and system building. “I see this advisory work as an extension of my teaching role,” he says. Marc also completes pro bono consulting work for various agencies involved in social innovation, such as the Aspen Institute.
Marc has an active interest in the practical application of entrepreneurship and innovation within companies and other organisations. He delivers executive education for firms and agencies internationally including Allergan, British Energy, BMW, Citizens Information Service, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), IBM, Standard Chartered Bank and Zurich Insurance on a range of topics such as innovation strategy, leadership, institutional change and system building.
In the last decade, Marc has secured funds for both research and programme development, most recently an institutional grant to create the Science Innovation Plus initiative, which is a teaching partnership between the Saïd Business School and Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences division.
Marc is actively involved in organising and hosting Oxford events such as the annual Silicon Valley Comes to Oxford event, and specialty conferences like the recent research meeting on ‘Learning Spaces’ and the MBA Electric Car Summit. He is founding convenor of the research seminar series ‘Strategies, Institutions and Practices at Saïd’. He was also an invited 2011 TEDxOxbridge speaker, where he gave a TEDtalk called 'Don’t be an Entrepreneur, Build Systems'.
Beyond Oxford, Marc serves as a reviewer on various journal editorial boards and for university presses and research funding agencies like the NSF in the US. He also serves as an external assessor for doctoral research at universities around the world. He serves on research prize committees and book award selection committees for a variety of academic professional associations. He was also elected to serve on the executive council of the Organisation and Management Theory division at the Academy of Management.
He has held various research affiliations at the Oxford Institute for Science, Innovation and Society; the Global Public Policy Academic Group at the Naval Postgraduate School; the Center for Organizational Research at the University of California, the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and the Stanford Center for Innovation and Communication.
Marc has received awards and honours throughout his career, including awards for his research papers and his teaching. In particular, he won the ‘Professor of the Year’ award from Saïd Business School’s EMBA class of 2010, the ‘Professor of the Year’ award from the Copenhagen Business School’s MBA class of 2004 and the Sidney Levy Teaching Prize at the Kellogg School of Management in 2003. He also won the ‘Best Paper Award’ for qualitative research from the UC Davis Conference.
Marc is an active teacher in and out of the classroom: his classes are much sought after and praised across student generations.
Many alumni reach out to him for entrepreneurial mentorship as they begin their own start-ups. Marc received “Teacher of the Year” honours from the EMBA cohort that graduated in 2010, and previously received teaching awards at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management and the Copenhagen Business School.
Marc’s teaching style differs depending on the audience, but his classes are always grounded in theory and concepts, with many practical examples. He recognises that MBAs, EMBAs, doctoral students and executives seek different kind of educational experience, and customises his teaching accordingly. “For each session, I like students to walk away with one robust concept or tool, or with a new question to consider,” he says.
For MBAs, he recognises that these students are often early-career professionals who are coming back to university to build a new set of skills and possibly transfer into a new industry or sector. Therefore, he focuses on introducing MBAs to new concepts and ideas related to problems that they will encounter in their future work. He focuses on classroom collaboration and uses different media such as cases, lectures and videos in his teaching. The ultimate goal is to “equip people with some fresh ideas and novel tools to go back into the workplace and be imaginative, responsible leaders,” he says.
As for the EMBA and Diplomas, these students are well-established in their careers, coming to Oxford to reflect and renew, often to leverage expertise in a new professional direction. In these classrooms, the focus is on using concepts and cases to provide tools to assess and act in real-time strategy, innovation, and implementation challenges
For doctoral students, Marc recognises that they are building careers as researchers, so he focuses on helping them frame their research problems and understand new research methods and old research traditions. Research students from Saïd Business School and several other social sciences departments find these expert seminars compelling and directly applicable as research training. They often seek Marc out for informal research assistance and professional mentoring.
Marc is also active in executive education for firms and agencies such as Allergan, British Energy, BMW, Citizens Information Service, the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), IBM, Standard Chartered Bank and Zurich Insurance. He travels internationally to work with different groups and teach about topics such as innovation strategy, leadership, institutional change and system building.
Marc teaches or has taught on the following courses:
- MBA/EMBA: Rethinking Business; Strategy & Innovation; Strategy Implementation; Entrepreneurial Organisation and Strategy
- MSc in Management Research: Advanced Organisation Theory; Innovation, Organisations and Markets
- Doctoral & Research Degress: Offers degree supervision
- Executive Education: Open and custom programmes; clients include BMW, British Energy, London Transport, Standard Chartered Bank, IBM, Nexen Oil, US Navy, and Zurich Insurance
- Diploma: Strategy & Innovation; Organisational Leadership
- Undergraduate: Economics of Organisation; Services Innovation