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Entrepreneuring as performance: understanding entrepreneurship as a process of becoming.

Air, Carol


Carol Air


Alistair Anderson


This research sought to explain how musicians became entrepreneurs in the city of Dundee, by considering the career transitions of twenty musicians-come-entrepreneurs. It focussed on exploring processes of becoming from their early childhood, throughout their music careers, to current endeavours as entrepreneurs in the city. This pre-start-up exploration was adopted out of curiosity, but also addressed a call to focus on situations, experiences and relationships that contribute to the making of an entrepreneur (Berglund 2015). The initial problem was concerned with culture to commerce transitions, as - at first glance - music and entrepreneurship appear to occupy diametrically opposite spheres in terms of practice, ethos and institutional engagement. From a phenomenological perspective, life histories were employed to capture stories that uncovered processes of entrepreneurial becoming. Process theory allowed data to be interpreted as an unfolding story and guided development of a directional, descriptive framework (Langley 1999). Context was also important, and Zilber et al.'s, (2008) three-level framework was adapted to allow exploration of micro, meso and macro social processes. These organising tools reduced complexity in the analysis phase of the research and enabled a collective "story of stories" to emerge. Findings confirmed that becoming entrepreneurial is not bound by business parameters and that processes of becoming entrepreneurial can start early in life. Entrepreneuring is rooted in past experience and, in this case, by developing and building on a listening grammar early in life. Through musical development, attitudes, non-formal learning, tacit knowledge and practice were linked to entrepreneuring - that is, activities that could be named in entrepreneurial terms. It was not merely a case of music being entrepreneurship, but rather an unfolding of entrepreneurial becoming over time. This brought to the fore questions of what differentiates the entrepreneur from anyone else (Moroz and Hindle 2011). To conclude, it was found that the key differentiating factor was the nature of the dialectic between actor and audience, and so processes of becoming were linked to social performance. In short, entrepreneurial becoming is performed experience.


AIR, C. 2020. Entrepreneuring as performance: understanding entrepreneurship as a process of becoming. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 8, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2021
Keywords Entrepreneurship; Musicians; Scotland
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