Exploring entrepreneurial identity construction: the case of an action-based entrepreneurship education
Paper in proceedings, 2013
Policy makers and practitioners increasingly call upon the need for entrepreneurial competence, as exemplified through the continued growth of entrepreneurship educations. But, while there exist varying pedagogic approaches for entrepreneurship education, few are sufficient in developing new ventures and stimulating entrepreneurial behavior. Besides acquiring the knowledge and skill to act entrepreneurially, entrepreneurial learning is seen to also include developing an identity. However, entrepreneurial identity construction has not significantly been addressed in relation to education. There exist learning processes associated to concepts of identity construction, but these are remiss in existing descriptions of entrepreneurship education. Our objective is to explore the construction of entrepreneurial identity within an action-based entrepreneurship education.
The article builds upon insider action research principles to investigate an action-based entrepreneurship education, employing a ‘learning through’ approach. The aim is to investigate if this approach can be used to facilitate constructing identity, for both the individual and their firm. Excerpts from participants in the education illustrate entrepreneurial identity construction through means such as storytelling, negotiation, symbolism and cliché.
We argue that identity construction needs to be seen as equally important to entrepreneurship education as content and pedagogy, if the educational objective is learning for the practice of entrepreneurship. Faculty and students need to strategically work with identity construction as students transition into an entrepreneurial career. An environment utilizing storytelling and reflection allows students, and surrounding stakeholders, to make sense of experiences in relation to identity construction.