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Itziar Castelló (Carlos III U. Madrid), D. Barberá (U.P. Valéncia) and E. Vaara (Aalto)

  • Aalto BIZ 2 Lapuankatu Helsinki, 00101 Finland (map)

Legitimizing Entrepreneurship Identities through Failure Narratives


The paper looks at how entrepreneurs have developed narratives of failure that are not only cognitive processes of attribution and blame avoidance but are part of a legitimacy process and the construction of entrepreneurship identity. Through the analysis of 50 interviews with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley we identified four main discursive strategies that entrepreneurs used in accounting for failure: distancing, embracement, re-scaling and relativizing. We extend the comprehension of the multiple and intertemporal identities of the entrepreneurs and present legitimation as a process of coupling and decoupling with different collective identities.