Understanding entrepreneurship: a definition and model based on economic activity and the pursuit of self-identity




McKenzie, Brian Bruce

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Entrepreneurship is a growing and important field of practice. Research in the field of entrepreneurship has been hampered by the lack of a clear paradigm of research and a common definition of the topic. This study reports the collection and analysis of 25 oral histories of self-identified entrepreneurs. The study describes the use of oral narrative by entrepreneurs to exchange important information and induces a new definition of entrepreneurship. The definition is simply stated as: “Entrepreneurship describes the economic activity undertaken by social individuals in their pursuit of self-identity.” The definition is developed into a model, which reconciles the roles of successful founder, serial entrepreneur, small business manager and charter-holder as forms of entrepreneurship. Preliminary testing of the model has shown it to successfully predict the entrepreneurial roles associated with the 55 ventures described by the entrepreneurs who participated in this study.



Entrepreneurship, Self-identity, Economic activity, Identity