Nascent academic entrepreneurs and identity work at the boundaries of professional domains

Elina I. Mäkinen, Terhi Esko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Higher education institutions promote academic entrepreneurship through organizational arrangements such as innovation programs, incubators, and accelerators aimed at implementing the third mission of the university. While research has examined how these multi-professional arrangements support entrepreneurial efforts, less is known about their individual level implications which emerge as researchers are exposed to different professional values and practices. This article draws on a longitudinal qualitative study on an innovation program to investigate through what kinds of identity processes nascent academic entrepreneurs construct their professional identities and how as part of these processes they position themselves in relation to different professional domains. The analysis demonstrates three identity construction processes (hybridization, rejecting hybridization, and transitioning) and their associated identity work tactics (compartmentalizing, protecting, and reframing) at the boundaries of professional domains. Our contribution is in demonstrating how nascent academic entrepreneurs’ identity construction processes are influenced by internally and externally oriented identity work and their interactive dynamics. Moreover, the findings advance our understanding of how individuals can purposefully mould the fluidity of domain boundaries through identity work by making boundaries bridgeable, impermeable, or permeable. These findings have value for those developing organizational arrangements for the promotion of academic entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial identities.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • academic entrepreneur
  • academic entrepreneurship
  • boundaries
  • identity construction
  • identity work
  • professional identity

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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