Abstract

Although many founders have multiple identities, these are often treated as potential sources of conflict, liabilities to be managed (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2001; Pratt & Foreman, 2000; Shepherd & Haynie, 2009). Since founders are viewed as integral to the venture, the perception is that identities associated with anything other than the business are incongruent. This study offers a different perspective. Multiple, micro-identities are assets, or resources, for entrepreneurs (Phillips, Tracey, & Karra, 2013). Specifically, this paper views identity as a mechanism for building authentic relationships. Through carefully constructed identity narratives, successful entrepreneurs build relationships and shape perceptions of themselves and their firms (Navis & Glynn, 2010; Navis & Glynn, 2011; Phillips, Tracey, & Karra, 2013). Just as savvy networkers learn how to relate to different people and adapt to situations, entrepreneurs learn how to build targeted relationships. Founders may not always be explicitly aware of this, but the proposal here is that their identity as a founder, inventor, mother, father, community member, or environmentalist facilitate the development of relationships that help them gain support and shape perceptions of their firm.

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