Forging a collective entrepreneurial identity within existing organizations through corporate venturing

Zhang, Ying and Biniari, Marina (2021) Forging a collective entrepreneurial identity within existing organizations through corporate venturing. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research. ISSN 1355-2554

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    Abstract

    Purpose: This study unpacks how organizational members construct a collective entrepreneurial identity within an organization and attempt to instill entrepreneurial features in the organization's existing identity. Design/methodology/approach: The study draws on the cases of two venturing units, perceived as entrepreneurial groups within their respective parent companies. Semi-structured interviews and secondary data were collected and analyzed inductively and abductively. Findings: The data revealed that organizational members co-constructed a “corporate entrepreneur” role identity to form a collective shared belief and communities of practice around what it meant to act as an entrepreneurial group within their local corporate context and how it differentiated them from others. Members also clustered around the emergent collective entrepreneurial identity through sensegiving efforts to instill entrepreneurial features in the organization's identity, despite the tensions this caused. Originality/value: Previous studies in corporate entrepreneurship have theorized on the top-down dynamics instilling entrepreneurial features in an organization's identity, but have neglected the role of bottom-up dynamics. This study reveals two bottom-up dynamics that involve organizational members' agentic role in co-constructing and clustering around a collective entrepreneurial identity. This study contributes to the middle-management literature, uncovering champions' identity work in constructing a “corporate entrepreneur” role identity, with implications for followers' engagement in constructing a collective entrepreneurial identity. This study also contributes to the organizational identity literature, showing how tensions around the entrepreneurial group's distinctiveness may hinder the process of instilling entrepreneurial features in an organization's identity.

    ORCID iDs

    Zhang, Ying ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0219-7949 and Biniari, Marina;