Embodying entrepreneurial identity

Eva Kašperová, John Kitching

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to propose a novel conception of embodied entrepreneurial identity. Prior studies conceptualise identity primarily in terms of narrative or discourse. Critiquing the limited focus on linguistic practices, the authors build on the literature by highlighting the role of the non-linguistic. The implications for researching one particular group – entrepreneurs with impairments – are considered.

Entrepreneurial identity is conceptualised as a unique constellation of concerns emergent from the embodied practices of agents committed to new venture creation and management. This new conception draws principally on the embodiment literature, Archer's identity framework and Goffman's ideas on the presentation of self, impression management and stigma.

The entrepreneurial identity literature is underpinned by a number of problematic assumptions that limit understanding of the meaning, formation and influence of identity on action. The body is often an absent presence; it is presupposed, implicit or under-theorised as an influence on identity, producing a disembodied notion of the entrepreneur. Consequently, entrepreneurs are treated as an homogeneous group in terms of the embodied properties and powers, rather than as uniquely embodied individuals. Studies typically assume an able-bodied, as opposed to a differently abled, agent. Entrepreneurs with impairments are largely invisible in the literature as a result.

The approach highlights the role of the body and embodied non-linguistic practices, such as movement, posture, gestures and facial expressions in the formation of identity. Recognising entrepreneurs as differently abled agents, possessing particular embodied properties and powers, is crucial for understanding identity and action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-452
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior and Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2014

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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


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