Narratives of Enterprise
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Narratives of Enterprise

Crafting Entrepreneurial Self-Identity in a Small Firm

Simon Down

Simon Down’s timely ethnographic study takes a philosophically reflective and empirically detailed look at the way in which enterprising people use narrative resources to construct their identity as entrepreneurs. The book draws on a wide range of intellectual sources, from naturalistic philosophy and social-psychology to sociology and organisational theory.
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Chapter 5: Space

Simon Down


There is a tendency to take for granted where things happen. For the managers and employees of Fenderco work takes place in offices and factories, but it also happens whilst socialising in pubs, in the home and at conference locations around the world. Self-identity narratives provide coherence to these different spatial regions. In the previous chapter we saw that generational narratives give shape to a broad spatially diverse community of practice. As we saw this coherence is not seamless, and in this chapter I unpick the way Paul, John and the others’ narratives are constructed in the places they work and play. Initial expectations of the fieldwork envisioned me spending most of my time at the Fenderco office, though broader vistas were also inherent to the original research design (Down 1999a). In practice I found it difficult to hang out there. It was often a claustrophobic, tense, industrious and quiet place. There was only so much sitting around, photocopying, using the computer and everyday banter one can engage in as a researcher, before you realise that you’re being a nuisance: interrupting the everyday flow of events you are there to capture in the first place. At least this is how it is in a small firm with an open plan office. So my research spilled over seamlessly into other aspects of Paul and John’s work and social lives. Without these different spaces a truncated and impoverished picture – the wrong picture – would have resulted. Paul and John do the business of...

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