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 6: Clichés

Simon Down


Previous themes, ‘relationships’, ‘generations’, ‘space’, of this book leapt into order even whilst I was in the field, and have maintained their boundaries more or less, through the data analysis, subsequent iterations and onto these pages. Doubt and confusion certainly informed the interpretation and analysis, but the clarity and obviousness of the themes seemed to form their own coherence. The theme of this chapter, ‘clichés’, was a little different. There was something special, something unconvincing about the language Paul and John used when speaking about being entrepreneurial. I was struck by the familiarity of much of what Paul and John said: it seemed only to confirm, support and replicate what the literature had said about entrepreneurs, owner-managers, their employees and their ways of doings things. They seemed to be talking in just the same hackneyed way (as if they were saying lines from a script learned at some fictitious entrepreneurial school), as the owner-managers in other studies. Maybe this was what one was supposed to notice when researching entrepreneurs? Paul and John were entrepreneurs; of course they would talk this way. However it was, the cant of entrepreneurialism seemed to run deep in Fenderco, and I remained intrigued by how corny, how ‘clichéd’, Paul and John’s talk often was. The thought that there was something particularly interesting about ‘their’ way of talking kept nagging my mind. But for a time I simply consigned this irritant to the many other unresolved intellectual backwaters of the project: it simply wasn’t...

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