Identity work of science-based entrepreneurs in Finland and in Russia

Päivi Karhunen, Irina Olimpieva, Ulla Hytti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the identity work of science-based entrepreneurs
in two very different country contexts: Finland and Russia. Building on the literature investigating role identities, we first analyse the identification of individuals with the roles of a scientist and an entrepreneur; and second, how individuals manage the boundary between these two roles. Methodologically, we take a narrative approach, which regards life stories as identity constructions. Our empirical data consist of 23 biographical interviews with science-based entrepreneurs that are inductively analysed. Our findings show
that the Russian informants considered being a scientist a salient part of their self-identification, distanced themselves from the role of an entrepreneur, and set discursive boundaries to segment the two roles. For the Finnish informants, identification with the professional roles as a scientist or as an entrepreneur was less salient for the personal identity as they make a clear distinction between ‘what one does’ and ‘who one is’. They also view the two roles as integrated rather than segmented, and have no significant need to justify the bordercrossing between them. Our contribution is in demonstrating how science-based entrepreneurs’ identity work is influenced by importance and meanings attached to different work roles, and how these are contextualised.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-566
Number of pages23
JournalEntrepreneurship and Regional Development
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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