Becoming a Founder: How Founder Role-Identity Affects Entrepreneurial Transitions and Persistence in Founding
56 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2007
Date Written: June 25, 2007
By viewing organizational founding as involving a role transition, we highlight the challenges that potential founders face: 1) adjusting to the novel skills and social networks that underpin the new role, and 2) incorporating the new role into an overall self-concept that may consist of contradictory or competing identities. We develop the concept of founder role identity and delineate how two aspects, centrality and complexity, affect potential founders' ability to exit a current work role in order to undertake founding activities, an indicator of successful role transition. Founder centrality denotes the subjective importance of the founder role to an individual's self-concept, while complexity captures diversity and richness in the person's conceptions of the role. After a role transition occurs, we delineate how distinctive configurations of founder role identities influence the extend and type of persistence observed in the face of negative feedback so prevalent during the founding process. By explicitly considering persistence, we are able to link founder role identity to longer-term outcomes, including the overlooked condition of dormancy wherein a role transition has occurred but successful founding has not. Our theorizing seeks to redress an imbalance in theories explaining entrepreneurial activity by developing a more dynamic understanding of the founder's role in determining organizaional founding.
Keywords: Founder role identity, entrepreneurial transition, persistence, organizational founding
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