Failed, not finished: a narrative approach to understanding venture failure stigmatization

Singh, S
Corner, T
Pavlovich, K
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Journal Article
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This paper implements a qualitative, narrative approach to investigate entrepreneurs' personal experience of stigma associated with venture failure. Findings draw on the lived experience of 12 entrepreneurs and tell a collective story of how stigma affects entrepreneurs, shapes their actions, and engenders outcomes for them and their ventures. The story covers three episodes of entrepreneurs anticipating, meeting, and then transforming venture failure. Overall the paper shifts the focus of stigma research from the socio-cultural perspective pervading research to date, to micro-level processes underlying socio-cultural trends. Findings offer unexpected insights into failure stigmatization. First, findings suggest stigmatization is best viewed as a process that unfolds over time rather than a label. Second, this process begins before, not after, failure and contributes to venture demise. Third, there is a positive ending to the collective story in that stigmatization ultimately triggers epiphanies or deep personal insights which transform entrepreneurs' view of failure from a very negative to a positive life experience. This transformation results in entrepreneurs distributing learning from failure to the founding of future ventures, even when ventures are not their own.

Entepreneurial failure stigma , Narrative approach , Microprocesses , Epiphanies
Journal of Business Venturing. DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2014.07.005
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Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in (see Citation). Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. The definitive version was published in (see Citation). The original publication is available at (see Publisher's Version).