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Understanding legitimacy building in contexts through digital entrepreneurship

Efe Imiren (University of Suffolk, Ipswich, UK)
Paul Lassalle (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow, UK)
Samuel Mwaura (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow, UK)
Katerina Nicolopoulou (Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, Strathclyde Business School, Glasgow, UK)

International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research

ISSN: 1355-2554

Article publication date: 3 November 2023

Issue publication date: 11 March 2024

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper, through empirical evidence, presents a framework for exploring how entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of building legitimacy in a digital context. In so doing, this paper goes beyond the seemingly forgone conclusion that legitimacy is important for the entrepreneur's success by focusing on the contextualised mechanisms through which digital legitimacy is built.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical findings are drawn from semi-structured interviews conducted with 21 digital entrepreneurs in Nigeria, a leading example of the West African context and analysed using a phenomenological approach.

Findings

The paper shows how digital entrepreneurs in a non-Western context draw on an aspect of legitimation in the digital space, and in particular, highlights three mechanisms via which this takes place, namely: digital shielding, digital curating and digital networking. Presented via an inductive approach, the three mechanisms described in the paper provide a scaffold for thinking about and understanding entrepreneurial legitimacy within a contextual framework, which incorporates institutional, cultural and digital dimensions.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature on digital entrepreneurship by empirically identifying and theoretically elaborating themes that are important for understanding how entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of digital entrepreneurship and build entrepreneurial legitimacy in complex contexts.

Keywords

Citation

Imiren, E., Lassalle, P., Mwaura, S. and Nicolopoulou, K. (2024), "Understanding legitimacy building in contexts through digital entrepreneurship", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 30 No. 2/3, pp. 548-571. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-10-2022-0949

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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