The space industry has experienced a profound paradigm shift: Once the exclusive domain of government, military contractors, and incumbent aerospace companies, space is increasingly accessible to new entrants founded by ambitious, well-resourced, and well-connected entrepreneurs from outside the traditional industry. We present early results from an ongoing study of technology entrepreneurship in the space industry, focusing here on the entrepreneuring actions of Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. We employ the emancipatory perspective on entrepreneuring- A theoretical lens that challenges the traditional notion of entrepreneurs as profit-driven wealth-maximizers by focusing instead on impetus and actions for change. We begin by reviewing the core ideas of the emancipatory perspective-that entrepreneurs are motivated by a driving need to bring about change that disrupts the status quo, and enact change by authoring new relationships, arrangements, rules of engagement, and positions of power, and by making declarations of intent to create change. Using publicly-available sources, we identify and report examples of seeking autonomy, authoring, and making declarations by Branson. Finally, we discuss the explanatory power of the emancipatory perspective and the implications for the theory and practice of technology management.
2018 Portland International Conference on Management of Engineering and Technology, PICMET 2018
Sprott School of Business

Muegge, S, & Reid, E. (Ewan). (2018). Richard Branson and virgin galactic: A case study of entrepreneuring as emancipation. In PICMET 2018 - Portland International Conference on Management of Engineering and Technology: Managing Technological Entrepreneurship: The Engine for Economic Growth, Proceedings. doi:10.23919/PICMET.2018.8481847