novelty, invention, amphibiousness, pragmatism, interstitial spaces, boundary spanning, social history, emergence


In this chapter, we examine entrepreneurs who carry ideas, technologies, values, and assumptions between previously unrelated spheres of economic or cultural activity, and in the process, change the existing order of things. We label such individuals amphibious entrepreneurs and explore their characteristics via four case studies. Their stories suggest a distinct species within the genus of entrepreneur: more pragmatic than heroic, and as likely to invent by not knowing any better as by calculative creation. We discuss their role in creating interstitial spaces, contrast them to other boundary-spanning actors, and identify directions for future research at the intersection of social history and entrepreneurship.

Original Publication Citation

Sandholtz, Kurt W. and Walter W. Powell (2019). “Amphibious Entrepreneurs and the Origins of Invention,” in Jeff Reuer and Sharon Matusik (eds.) The Oxford Handbook on Entrepreneurship and Collaboration. Oxford University Press. pp. 541-566. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190633899.013.37.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Oxford University Press


Marriott School of Management



University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor