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Biography & Abstract
Jan Logemann

Jan is Senior Lecturer for Economic and Social History at Göttingen University and program director of the Eramus Mundus Joint Masters Degree “Global Markets, Local Creativities” (GLOCAL). At the moment, he explores the market for funerals and its entrepreneurs in transatlantic comparison.

Constructing Moral Strictures on Entrepreneurial Innovation: The Case of Funeral Markets in Germany

Entrepreneurial innovation is not always welcome. Even in the absence of government regulation, societal actors as well as established businesses have been active in discouraging and delegitimizing entrepreneurship and business innovation in some markets by using appeals to morality and questioning the legitimacy of new entrepreneurial ventures. Using the example of funeral markets, heavily shaped by cultural norms yet relatively unregulated in 20th century Germany, the paper explores practices of delegitimizing potential innovation e.g. by restrictions on marketing and product innovation, scandalizing competitive behavior or the through the construction of restrictive ethical norms. The paper will also ask about the increasing limits on such moral restrictions since the end of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1980s, entrepreneurial innovations in business organization (e.g. franchises and discounter), marketing (e.g. advertising, pre-needs contracts) and products (e.g. ethnic and life-style segmentation of funerals, forest burials, composting memory diamonds…) have become increasingly commonplace and culturally acceptable. What can such changes in the particularly sensitive funeral market tell us more generally about the changing social and moral embeddedness of entrepreneurship and the legitimate boundaries of business innovation at the beginning of the 21st century?

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