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Giving Up the Hats? Entrepreneurs’ Role Transitions and Venture Growth

Mathias, BD and DW Williams (2018). Giving Up the Hats? Entrepreneurs’ Role Transitions and Venture Growth, Journal of Business Venturing, 33(3), 261-77.

At the start of a venture, most entrepreneurs wear many hats. However, entrepreneurs often cannot remain involved in every aspect of the venture process, and so they face important decisions about which roles to give up, which roles to retain, and which new roles to adopt. For many, this process is particularly difficult as roles represent more than just something entrepreneurs do but also an important part of who they are (role identities). Through an inductive field study, this research reveals how and why entrepreneurs add, subtract, or retain roles. We find three mechanisms—perceiving the entrepreneur as someone who ‘gives up the hats,’ discovering new meaning (new role identities) within the venture, and role identity imprinting—lead to a narrowing of one’s role set, which ultimately influences venture growth.

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