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Identity as a causal power: Contextualizing entrepreneurs' concerns

Kasperova, Eva and Kitching, J and Blackburn, R (2018) Identity as a causal power: Contextualizing entrepreneurs' concerns. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 19 (4). pp. 237-249. ISSN 1465-7503


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We propose a critical realist-informed conception of entrepreneurial identity – the personal power to create a new venture. Although most people have the power to become an entrepreneur, not everyone can, or is motivated to, realize that potential. Other countervailing powers – personal, material and social – can constrain, or discourage, action. Utilizing a stratified, emergent ontology, we contextualize entrepreneurial identity within three analytical orders – natural, practical and social. We distinguish personal identity, the set of concerns in the three orders that motivate action, from social identity, the roles we commit to in society. While entrepreneurial identity is a type of social identity, the underlying concerns that motivate commitment to an entrepreneurial role cannot be reduced to social interaction alone. The concept of internal conversation is used to theorize the connection of entrepreneurial motivation, context and behaviour. We draw on qualitative data from three UK-based disabled entrepreneurs to demonstrate the value of our framework.

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