Constructing entrepreneurial identity in entrepreneurship education
Journal article, 2014
While increasing demand for entrepreneurial competence has led to constant growth in entrepreneurship education, few programs provide robust outcomes such as actual new ventures or entrepreneurial behavior in real contexts. This is due to a gap in our theoretical understanding of what it takes to become entrepreneurial. Research suggests that beyond acquiring knowledge and skill to act entrepreneurially, entrepreneurial learning also involves the development of an entrepreneurial identity. Yet most accounts of entrepreneurship education do not include this concept. We explore entrepreneurial identity and how it is constructed within an entrepreneurship education.
Connecting entrepreneurial learning theory with literature on identity, we developed a set of categories addressing the construction of an entrepreneurial identity. In a case study at a European technical university, we used these categories to sample and analyze narrative data developed as students created new ventures. The results support our supposition that, in the context of a new venture creation program, students experience challenges that lead to the development of entrepreneurial identity. Based on these findings, we argue that, if the educational objective is learning for the practice of entrepreneurship, then identity construction needs to be seen as important a goal as the development of knowledge and skill.