Abstract

Recent studies suggest that the founders’ identity and perceptions of entrepreneurship imprints their ventures by affecting the actions and choices of the entrepreneurs, thereby leading to distinctly different trajectories at the venture level (Fauchart & Gruber, 2011; Cardon, Wincent, Singh, & Drnovsek, 2009; Powell & Baker, 2014). But if founder’s perceptions and practices imprint their ventures, how these perceptions are imprinted on the entrepreneurs?

We seek to answer this question by tracing the impact of social context on entrepreneurial behavior. We examine an emerging self-defined entrepreneurial community – a student-led Aalto Entrepreneurship Society. We explore how such communities serve both as the context within which a shared understanding is formed about the “entrepreneur” social category, and as the context in which members experiment with the entrepreneurial role identity (Deaux & Martin, 2003). Drawing on the role identity and planned behavior theories, we suggest that social context-dependent antecedents shape entrepreneurial behavior. Those antecedents include 1) attitudes, norms, and other behavioral expectations consisting of shared attitudes towards “entrepreneurial behavior”, 2) shared conceptions of what constitutes legitimate “entrepreneurial behavior”, and 3) shared role models that symbolically embody such behavior.

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