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Constructing narratives of enterprise: clichés and entrepreneurial self‐identity

Simon Down (University of Newcastle Business School, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Lorraine Warren (School of Management, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 18 January 2008




The purpose of this paper is to extend the repertoire of narrative resources relevant in the creation and maintenance of entrepreneurial identity, and to explore the implications for understanding entrepreneurial behaviour.


The empirical research is based on a two and a half year ethnographic study of a small UK industrial firm.


The study describes how clichés used by aspirant entrepreneurs are significant elements in creating entrepreneurial self‐identity. In contrast to entrepreneurial metaphors, the study of which has highlighted and revealed the extraordinary components of an entrepreneurial narrative identity, examination of the clichés provide us with a means by which to understand the everyday and ordinary elements of identity construction in entrepreneurs.

Research limitations/implications

Further qualitative research in other entrepreneurial settings will be required, exploring the generality of cliché use amongst entrepreneurs.

Practical implications

Applying the implications of our findings for pedagogic and business support uses is not explored and will need further development; we do however suggest that narrative approaches that make sense of entrepreneurship as an achievable aim may have some practical use.


The application of cliché as a distinctive linguistic feature of entrepreneurial self‐identity construction is highly original and reflects analogous work on entrepreneurial metaphors. Because of its ethnographic data, the paper develops empirically and conceptually rich insights into entrepreneurship.



Down, S. and Warren, L. (2008), "Constructing narratives of enterprise: clichés and entrepreneurial self‐identity", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 4-23.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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