Identity change and the entrepreneurial journey : a case of Art-School graduates

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Whilst many have addressed the question, it is still not clearly known how identity influences entrepreneurial behaviour. There is a need for research to look at the formation of entrepreneurial identity as a process – an important contribution considering identities and ventures both take time to form. This thesis will address this research demand by looking at entrepreneurship as a journey that individuals undertake and explore how this interplays with their identity. Therefore, this thesis has 3 objectives: (1) to understand if and how the entrepreneurial identity changes throughout the entrepreneurial process and what triggers change; (2) to understand how entrepreneurs manage the performance of multiple identities and the relationship this has with the venture; and (3) to understand the temporal and processual development of identity and the relationship this has with venture development. By exploring these objectives this thesis aims to understand what the entrepreneurial identity is and how it is formed and enacted. This will advance the understanding of what drives entrepreneurs to develop ventures. To achieve this, a longitudinal study on seven arts entrepreneurs was conducted, with data collection lasting between 12 and 18 months. Data was triangulated with media articles and participant diagrams. In total, 21 interviews were conducted, 61 media articles reviewed and 20 participant diagrams formed which allowed insights to emerge on the entirety of the entrepreneurial journey. Data was systematically analysed using an inductive approach, where aggregate themes emerged from the raw interview data by way of a data structure (Gioia, Corley, & Hamilton, 2012). Visual mapping strategies were also used to help generate theory from the raw data (interviews and participant diagrams) by way of venture timelines and process diagrams (Langley, 1999).This research makes contributions to existing work on entrepreneurial identities. The concepts of role naivety and role defiance are introduced which can add to existing explanations on the challenges that entrepreneurs face during identity transition. Insight is also offered to literature debate on how identities effect entrepreneurial behaviour by introducing a model which shows identity as both influencing and being influenced by venture development. This conceptual model of identity change for arts entrepreneurs is presented and fundamentally sees a process of identity disruption, reconciliation and affirmation which is mediated by venture activity and moderated by community identity forces. Additionally, insights are offered that contribute to wider entrepreneurship literature by showing how identity influences and forms different venture pursuits, namely arts-focused ventures and commercial-focused ventures. By looking at entrepreneurial identity construction as a process, this thesis has offered an explanation as to why some ventures scale and grow and why some do not.
Date of Award1 Oct 2016
LanguageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorLucrezia Casulli (Supervisor) & Russell Matthews (Supervisor)

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