Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Entrepreneurship, PhD

Committee Chair

Kemelgor, Bruce

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Thatcher, Sherry

Committee Member

Aldrich, Howard

Committee Member

Dubofsky, David

Committee Member

Lonial, Subhash


Entrepreneurship--Psychological aspects; Businesspeople--Psychology


My dissertation provides theoretical insights on individual level entrepreneurial identity in three inter-related essays, drawing on multiple theories and disciplines. In the first essay, I advance a dual-process model of identity development, contributing to the debates in the broad identity literature. I articulate that the intrinsic prospection of identity is another fundamental process of identity formation, besides the social construction of identity, the prevalent notion in the literature. I propose a comprehensive conceptual framework of entrepreneurial identity. On the basis of this conceptual framework, I explain that there are within-group and between-group variations in the entrepreneurial identity of different types of entrepreneurs – innovators, imitators, and self-employed professionals. In the second essay, I develop and validate an entrepreneurial identity scale with socially constructed and intrinsically prospected identity dimensions. I theorize on the antecedents of entrepreneurial identity, and empirically test a conceptual model. Particularly, I investigate the influence of career related attitudes, personality characteristics, and family background on entrepreneurial identity. In the final essay, I argue that entrepreneurial identity is a missing link in the nascent entrepreneurship literature. Although the centrality of entrepreneurial intentions and entrepreneurial self-efficacy in predicting an individual’s transition to an entrepreneurial career is well established, we do not adequately know what contributes to entrepreneurial intentions and entrepreneurial self-efficacy. To that end, I investigate the impacts of entrepreneurial identity on entrepreneurial intentions and entrepreneurial self-efficacy in a sample of potential entrepreneurs. Therefore, the third essay fills that critical gap.