Negotiating Multiple Identities at Work: The Case of Academic Entrepreneurship
Licentiate thesis, 2018
This thesis explores how individuals negotiate multiple work-related identities with special emphasis on the combination of entrepreneurship and another occupational role. A growing share of the modern workforce is made up by individuals who do not settle for a single-occupation career but instead opt for more flexible and diverse working arrangements, often combining entrepreneurship with an existing work role. When establishing identity, transition points are central since novel situations and experiences challenge the sense of normality by placing new and sometimes conflicting demands on identity. However, while a lot is known about permanent transitions from one occupational role into another, less is known about how individuals make sense of having multiple work-related identities where transitions between the two are frequent. The current thesis explores this under-researched and increasingly common phenomenon through a qualitative empirical study and two systematic reviews of relevant literatures. The empirical work is conducted within the context of academic entrepreneurship, which is arguably a case where the challenges of holding multiple work-related positions is especially salient. Some of the key findings in this thesis show that, counter to existing studies that highlight role segregation as the way to reduce work identity ambiguity, academic entrepreneurs purposefully, and sometimes strategically, enact their two identities of entrepreneur and academic at the same time. Moreover, by selectively identifying with concrete practices and work activities across traditional role boundaries they shift the level of identification from the role, as a unitary entity, to its constitutive parts.