Failed and not ashamed: Destigmatizing failure in startup entrepreneurship

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Volume Title
School of Business | Master's thesis
Date
2024
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Marketing
Language
en
Pages
33
Series
Abstract
Even though most startups fail, startup entrepreneurs continue to experience stigmas related to their failures. Yet, despite the recent growth of literature on entrepreneurial failure, the research on removing failure stigma remains scant. This thesis aims to fill this research gap by studying how startup entrepreneurs destigmatize failure. Eleven startup entrepreneurs were interviewed for the purpose of this thesis, all of whom have gone through a failure of some kind. Based on the results of a thematic analysis, I suggest that startup entrepreneurs destigmatize failure by attaching different positive or neutral meanings to it. The themes identified are: 1) Failure as a natural part of startup entrepreneurship, 2) Failure as a badge of honour, and 3) Failure as the price of an entrepreneurial way of life. The findings show that failure is not only viewed as a mandatory part of being an entrepreneur, but as something to be proud of. Entrepreneurs who openly share about their failures are considered brave, and fellow entrepreneurs are eager to absorb their learnings through public talks and mentorships.
Description
Thesis advisor
Mikkonen, Ilona
Keywords
failure, startup entrepreneurship, stigma, destigmatization
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