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Evolving as an entrepreneur: a life story approach to studying Indian women entrepreneurs

Vrinda Khattar (OBHR, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai, India)
Upasna A. Agarwal (OBHR, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai, India)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 23 May 2023

Issue publication date: 8 June 2023




The purpose of this article is to understand how women develop entrepreneurship as a career identity through women's various life stages. Using a life story approach, the authors study the formation of Indian businesswomen's entrepreneurial identity in businesswomen's unique socio-cultural context.


The study drew upon 15 semi-structured interviews with practicing women entrepreneurs using a qualitative methodology. Gioia methodology was used to systematically analyze the data for theory building.


The narratives of the Indian women entrepreneurs indicate that Indian women's entrepreneurial identity was a developmental process influenced by various episodes in different life stages-childhood, adolescence, marriage and motherhood. Life episodes influenced the creation and enactment of this entrepreneurial identity, which led to the emergence of entrepreneurship as a career choice.

Research limitations/implications

The study's retrospective design may have raised concerns involving memory recall. The open-ended questions gave the participants the freedom to recount the life episodes that influenced the participants the most and may have partly mitigated this concern.


Prior studies have focused on specific life stages of women entrepreneurs, without taking a holistic life-story view, thereby missing out on how career identity is formed as a result of life episodes. Using the developmental psychology approach, the authors provide a nuanced and holistic lens to understanding women's entrepreneurship.



The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


Khattar, V. and Agarwal, U.A. (2023), "Evolving as an entrepreneur: a life story approach to studying Indian women entrepreneurs", Career Development International, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 277-299.



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