Entrepreneurship Education and Entrepreneurial Identity: Beyond Stereotypes

Felicity Mendoza, Tracey M. Coule, Andrew Johnston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The entrepreneur is often conceptualised as an individualistic hero (Essers & Benschop, 2007; Gill, 2017). Although this portrayal has been criticised as highly romanticised (Acs & Audretsch, 2003) it is still influential in the contemporary entrepreneurship literature (Down, 2010). Consequently, prevailing social discourses around entrepreneurship may restrict and even prevent an individual to develop their own entrepreneurial identity (Down & Giazitzoglu, 2014; Gill, 2017). In order to explore this issue, this chapter presents insights into the entrepreneurial experience of student entrepreneurs by exploring the role of entrepreneurial and non-entrepreneurial identities in new venture creation. In-depth interviews were carried out with 11 student entrepreneurs who had, individually or in partnership with others, started a venture whilst they were enrolled in higher education courses. 

These findings challenge the taken-for-granted assumptions entrenched in the characterisation of the homogenous entrepreneur (Jones, 2014) and suggest that individuals can arrive at entrepreneurship in different ways. In order to demonstrate the diversity of entrepreneurial identities, the chapter highlights those that fit the orthodox depiction of entrepreneurs through vignettes from Nicole and Georgie. This is then contrasted with alternative depictions through vignettes from Joanna, Christa, Darcie and Paige. The experience of the latter demonstrates how entrepreneurial identities are formed through role enactment and socialisation into entrepreneurial communities. The findings propose universities can support student entrepreneurship through both formal and informal activities. The broader conceptions of entrepreneurial identities with respect to the role of universities and enterprise education are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUniversities and Entrepreneurship
Subtitle of host publicationMeeting the Educational and Social Challenges: Volume 11
EditorsPaul Jones, Nikolaos Apostolopoulos, Alexandros Kakouris, Christopher Moon, Vanessa Ratten, Andreas Walmsley
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781839820748, 9781839820762
ISBN (Print)9781839820755
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameContemporary Issues in Entrepreneurship Research
ISSN (Print)2040-7246
ISSN (Electronic)2040-7254

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