Narrative and Discursive Approaches in Entrepreneurship

Narrative and Discursive Approaches in Entrepreneurship

A Second Movements in Entrepreneurship Book

Edited by Daniel Hjorth and Chris Steyaert

This is the second volume in a mini-series on movements in entrepreneurship. It aims to forward the study of entrepreneurship by stimulating and exploring new ideas and research practices in relation to new themes, theories, methods, pragmatic stances and contexts. The book explores different experiences and accounts of entrepreneurship, as well as reflections on ‘story telling’ in entrepreneurship research, discursive studies, and debates on how to interpret narrative and discursive work.

Chapter 6: The devil is in the e-tale: forms and structures in the entrepreneurial narratives

Robert Smith and Alistair R. Anderson

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship, research methods in business and management, research methods, qualitative research methods, research methods in business and management


Robert Smith and Alistair R. Anderson INTRODUCTION In this chapter we explore the genre of ‘Entrepreneurial Tales’, which we refer to as e-tales. The title is an obvious parody of the proverb, ‘The devil is in the detail’, and reflects the power of entrepreneurial narratives, a power that stems from the normative detail embedded in the moral content of the e-tale. We use the term ‘tale’ in preference to other descriptors, as the word tale is associated with imaginative creation and even fiction, and also because tales explain themselves. Tales encompass morality and immorality. The purpose of the chapter is to show how moral details play an important role in communicating values as a framework to entrepreneurial actions. We demonstrate that morality is an important detail of e-tales and forms a common master theme. The chapter explains what we mean by e-tales and shows how they form narratives which exhort entrepreneurship. We attempt to illustrate how they operate, essentially as instrumental examples – ways of showing that entrepreneurship can be done. We also show how these examples are set in a moral context, one which appears to promote an entrepreneurial ethos replete with an underpinning of moral values. To develop our argument the chapter opens with a section on narrative as a cultural dialogue and how narrative provides a legitimizing frame of reference which is both sensemaking and sensegiving. We then explore the entrepreneurial narrative and show how e-tales confirm the righteousness of entrepreneurial actions by signifying a moral...

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