Focussing on the dynamic nature of entrepreneurship, the purpose of this paper is to advance an understanding of entrepreneurial practice in phases of radical change, which the authors conceptualize as periods of liminality. A particular focus on the management of tension is taken to investigate destabilization of practices, sources of resistance and enablers of change during shifts from a familiar past into an unfamiliar and uncertain future.
An exploratory longitudinal study of a single case firm was conducted to study the entrepreneurial change process during radical transition phases. To understand and theorize liminality and practice renewal in the entrepreneurial firm, the authors leveraged data collection tools from ethnography and engaged in data analysis inspired by grounded theory.
The authors build a process model of becoming that maps the following processes: destabilizing incumbent practices, sources of resistance and enablers of change, acceptance of upheaval and trying on a new state of being. A research agenda for future research in this area is also formulated.
The research contributes to contemporary entrepreneurship-as-practice research and to research considering the concept of liminality in entrepreneurship. Through processual theory building based on empirical research, the authors highlight that simultaneously handling the practices of the past whilst breeding new trajectories in an unknown future create tensions that can make or break the entrepreneurial firm.
The authors would like to acknowledge the Dublin Institute of Technology for the funding that it has provided for this research. The authors are also grateful to Professor David Carson, Dr Katrina Lawlor and Dr Claire McBride for their advice and feedback.
Gross, N. and Geiger, S. (2017), "Liminality and the entrepreneurial firm: Practice renewal during periods of radical change", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 185-209. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-02-2016-0049
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