Identity Construction In Social Entrepreneurship Education
: The Use of Narrative Approaches to Explore Student Experience

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Economics and Business Management


Our ambition is to continue the work initiated by Smith and Woodworth (2012) on the identity construction of SE students through SEE, by proposing an innovative approach that goes beyond a deterministic view dear to mainstream entrepreneurship education (Krueger, N. F. 1993, Hoppe, M., Westerberg, M., & Leffler, E., 2017). In this tradition, identity work is envisioned to act on youths' intentions to engage in entrepreneurial activities after graduation (Boissin, Chollet, & Emin, 2009). What we study in this thesis is SEE as an opportunity for students to discuss how working on social and environmental injustices questions who they are and want to become including, but not limited to, becoming a social entrepreneur. To understand the complexity of what they are experiencing, we focus on the effects that such an approach may have on their perception of themselves (their identity) and their vision of the future in the context of SE. Specifically, we study student narratives of young adults who put themselves in the shoes of aspiring social entrepreneurs, take a stand on social and environmental issues, and in doing so reveal dimensions of their identity such as their values, motivations, dreams and hopes for the future. Our results do not feed the romanticized ideal of the entrepreneurial hero conveyed by the literature (Dey and Steyaert, 2010), but rather show a reading of the entrepreneurial experience linked to individual posture, i.e., the stance that students adopt in the face of situations. This posture shapes what they see as problems, solutions and successes and highlights the influential role of the collective in challenging, disrupting or supporting their SE journey. Our results are important for SEE because they highlight the underutilized richness of collective dimensions, an opportunity for students to open up to other understandings, to discover paths not yet taken, and to attempt with others what they might not have dared alone, revealing dimension of social entrepreneurship identities but not only.
Date of Award24 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SponsorsUniversity of Namur & ICHEC Brussels Management School
SupervisorSophie PONDEVILLE (Supervisor), Julie Hermans (Co-Supervisor), Marc Romainville (Jury), Valérie Swaen (Jury) & Caroline Verzat (Jury)


  • Social entrepreneurship education
  • collective efficacy
  • hope

Cite this