Identity Construction in a Retail Chain – Narrative Approach to the K-Retailer

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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This research aims to uncover how entrepreneurial identity is constructed within a retail chain. More specifically, the study is about the paradox of K-Retailers running their own grocery shops in a retail chain environment: under the K Group. Theoretically the research is grounded in identity theory and theory of paradox is used to further understand the research context. Data collection is done through interviewing K-Retailers who have been in the business for a long period of time, and the materials gathered are analysed using narrative analysis. The life-stories of entrepreneurs explain how the entrepreneurial identity is constructed over time and looking at the main themes emerging from the data help to make sense of the stories and experiences. A narrative of the K-Retailer is created, based on what the participants told during the inter- views. The aim of the narrative is not to recreate what happened, but to interpret the events and create meaningful connections between the individual accounts. The meanings the K-Retailer at- taches to their role as an entrepreneur help to explain how the entrepreneurial identity is con- structed in a retail chain. Based on the narrative of the K-Retailer, there seems to be two main events heavily shaping the identity. The first is the beginning of the career in the first shop when the K-Retailer builds their entrepreneurial identity most heavily. The second event is when they move to the first K-Citymarket and take on the role of a manager in addition to the entrepreneurial role. Finally, the narrative exposes a type of career ladder the K-Retailers climb as they advance in their career. This kind of structure is not common among entrepreneurs, but show cases the paradox of K-Retailers running their own shops in a retail chain environment most visibly.
Thesis advisor
Rusanen, Olli
Mitronen, Lasse
identity, entrepreneurship, K-Group, Kesko, K-retailer, analysis of narratives
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