I study the connections between culture, individual identity, and the ways in which this interaction affects the development of new ventures—including why and how people start new companies. A significant part of my PhD thesis is based on my 2017 fieldwork in Taiwan, during which I spent about 3 months with 59 founders of fashion, textile, design, and lifestyle companies.
Entrepreneurial identity across sociocultural contexts
My thesis is practically motivated by the observation that the products and services we use shape our behavior—our habits, the way we interact with others; they even influence the way in which we think and approach problems. (Think about the styles of clothing available, the apps you use.) All of these products and services began as the vision of a person or a team—designers, inventors, entrepreneurs—and the way those individuals see the world has influenced every decision they’ve made during the process of developing their offer, producing it, and selling it. Together, a society’s entrepreneurs not only reflect its values, they also shape them.
Field work—seeking out founders, conducting interviews, understanding the way they see the world, discovering their products and vision, navigating Taiwan with all its sights and sounds and food, and all the serendipitous events that accompanied my time there—was the easiest part of the process to fall in love with!
Undertaking qualitative analysis of 994 pages of transcripts, seeking out patterns, and developing a grounded theory is a 20-month (ongoing) process that is beginning to yield interesting fruit. It’s taken me longer to fall in love with this part of the research process, but after developing the mantra, “My data is my friend,” I’m finding the gold.