The Role of Cultural and Symbolic Capital in Entrepreneurs' Ability to Meet Expectations About Conformity and Innovation

23 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2009

See all articles by Dirk De Clerq

Dirk De Clerq

Brock University - Faculty of Business

Maxim Voronov

Columbia University

Abstract

We conceptualize entrepreneurs' success in acquiring resources as the outcome of a socially embedded process of pursuing legitimacy, which in turn encompasses their ability to meet field incumbents' expectations about conformity and innovation. Drawing from Bourdieu's theory of practice, we specifically discuss entrepreneurs' ability, when entering a business field, to simultaneously conform to existing field arrangements (i.e., to “fit in”) and to be perceived as innovators (i.e., to “stand out”). A possible paradoxical relationship marks entrepreneurs' ability to meet both of these expectations; we discuss the role of entrepreneurs' cultural and symbolic capital in this process. In addition, two contingency factors may influence how entrepreneurs' ability to fit in and stand out affects their resource acquisition. First, the contribution of the two facets of legitimacy to resource acquisition is influenced by the maturity of the field the entrepreneur enters. Second, entrepreneurs' resource acquisition may be enhanced by their ability to artfully navigate the possible conflicting demands to fit in versus stand out through impression management.

Suggested Citation

De Clercq, Dirk and Voronov, Maxim, The Role of Cultural and Symbolic Capital in Entrepreneurs' Ability to Meet Expectations About Conformity and Innovation. Journal of Small Business Management, Vol. 47, Issue 3, pp. 398-420, July 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1417664 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-627X.2009.00276.x

Dirk De Clercq (Contact Author)

Brock University - Faculty of Business ( email )

St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1
Canada

Maxim Voronov

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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