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Enterprising talk: a case of self construction

Colleen E. Mills (Department of Management, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Kylie Pawson (Department of Management, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 1 November 2006




This paper presents a case study that explores the experiences and sensemaking of a new start entrepreneur in New Zealand. The primary aim of the case was to theorise new entrepreneurs' sensemaking about risk in order to provide a framework for further study.


Data for the case were gathered using a semi‐structured interview technique. These data were then coded and analysed using an approach inspired by grounded theory. As the purpose was to examine both what the subject said about her entrepreneurial experience and the conceptual frameworks she drew upon to do this, the analysis integrated techniques employed in discourse analysis and educational psychology.


The analysis produced a theoretical model that suggests the entrepreneur's perceptions of self shaped the perception of risk and then structured the way in which risks were addressed or avoided.

Practical implications

This case and the questions that the theoretical model raises have significant implications for entrepreneurs, policy makers and educators. We expect the lines of enquiry suggested by this case will provide a framework for further research on new start entrepreneurs' sensemaking and in so doing help address the dearth of knowledge about New Zealand's new start entrepreneurs' behaviour, particularly in relation to risk assessment.


The case draws attention to the interplay between identity and new start entrepreneurial behaviour and in so doing challenges us to look at new start behaviour in a new way. It raises questions about the centrality of the notion of risk in new start entrepreneurs' rationales for the enterprise development decisions they make.



Mills, C.E. and Pawson, K. (2006), "Enterprising talk: a case of self construction", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 328-344.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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