The Journeys of Becoming and Being an International Entrepreneur : A Narrative Inquiry of the “I” in International Entrepreneurship
Korhonen, Satu (2020-10-30)
Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT
Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis
School of Business and Management
School of Business and Management, Kauppatieteet
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This doctoral study was conducted as an inquiry of the international entrepreneur in order to balance off the domination of firm-level studies and limited discussion of the individual as the initial driver in the international entrepreneurship phenomenon (IE). Two research questions guide the study: ‘How do individuals make sense of themselves as becoming and being international entrepreneurs?’ and ‘How to theorise of individuals becoming and being international entrepreneurs through a narrative approach?’. With a processual view of the phenomenon, this study embraces IE as a journey and approaches histories and sense-making of individuals through narrative inquiry, paying attention to the different efforts by which entrepreneurs (and researchers) contextualize—and constitute—the personal-level IE journeys. The qualitative dataset consists of interviews and historical data. Data analysis builds on ‘hermeneutic reasoning’, suggesting that meanings and implications of journeys individuals have undertaken can be better grasped after they have unfolded in time. The findings in the four publications construct the contribution of this article-based dissertation. Publications I, II and III embrace narrative sense-making as meaning structure to past actions and lived events and illuminate how the international entrepreneurial ‘self’ as an actor and agent in retrospect manifests individuals as the ‘autobiographical authors’ in regard to developmental, transitional and generational experiences and their meanings in becoming and being an international entrepreneur. They provide evidence of how the founders’ sense-making and identity work feed into the behavioural orientations and ‘bounded and boundaryless’ career journeys of becoming and being international. Publications I, III and IV are novel attempts to address empirically the social historic process in which IE is embedded and its significance for the individual. When analysed against the (inter)generational backdrop of individuals’ actions and life-events, we may trace how international entrepreneurs are the protagonists of their own generations and leaving a legacy to the next.
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