The construction and regulation of collective entrepreneurial identity in student entrepreneurship societies
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CitationSiivonen, Päivi Tuulikki. Peura, Kirsi. Hytti, Ulla. Kasanen, Kati. Komulainen, Katri. (2019). The construction and regulation of collective entrepreneurial identity in student entrepreneurship societies. International journal of entrepreneurial behaviour and research, Publication date: 18 December 2019, 10.1108/IJEBR-09-2018-0615.
The purpose of this paper is to critically investigate how collective identity is constructed and regulated by board members and other active members of student entrepreneurship societies (ESs).
A discursive analysis focusing on collective identity construction and regulation based on focus group discussions in two student-led Finnish ESs affiliated with higher education institutions (HEIs).
ES members construct and regulate collective entrepreneurial identity based on a shared narrative of entrepreneurship and the affective state of positive energy and thinking, i.e. “positive buzz.” Being entrepreneurial was constructed as having the right kind of mentality to cope with uncertain and rapidly changing working life and to break free of old moulds of working. The shared narrative was coherent, and critical reflection on the values or risks of entrepreneurship was mainly silenced.
As ESs are a relatively new phenomenon future research could explore ESs in different cultural and regional contexts and compare the identity construction and regulation of ES student members and non-members.
Strong collective identity and sense of commitment to doing things together may mitigate the pressures of being entrepreneurial and taking charge of one’s life.
Educational practice and research could benefit from better understanding of the informal context in which entrepreneurship education takes place.
The paper contributes to the relatively new research stream on ESs as student-led entrepreneurial organizations in HEIs. The research demonstrates how ES members participate in constructing a collective and coherent identity that is regulated by shared values and a positive state of mind. This study extends the understanding of ESs from the functional perspective to viewing them as a social community. It contributes to the definition of ESs and the self-understanding of ES actors.