2017-Michelle Richey

Cross-Cultural Performances Of Failure: Gathering Evidence From An International Entrepreneurial Community

Dr Michelle Richey, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University


Prof M.N. Ravishankar, School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University

Dr Higor Dos-Reis-Leite, Federal University of Technology, Parana, Brazil.  


Project summary: This project elucidates how entrepreneurs in different cultural contexts talk about their venture failures in a public setting and how this process aids entrepreneurial recovery and re-emergence from failure. This is important because although failure stories can be seen as sources of learning and vital sense-making tools, many factors converge to make sharing failure stories difficult, most notably the level of stigma associated with failure in different cultural contexts. Despite these challenges, research suggests that later in the psychological processing of failure, entrepreneurs actively share stories in order to influence the perceptions of others (Singh et al. 2015). These efforts are thought to play an important role in enabling entrepreneurs to recover and re-emerge from failure. Little is currently understood about how stories are used to pro-actively construct meanings for failure. We present novel qualitative data from failure events in the UK and Brazil that allow their members to share venture failures with an audience. Our findings show how entrepreneurs transform their experiences during public performances turning failure in to a category of entrepreneurial success. To accomplish this, they draw heavily upon keyings (Goffman, 1974) - interpretations of events that temporarily suspend the literal in favour of a less demoralising alternative. We find that keyings are used across cultural contexts as a way of making the knotty, local issues of venture failure more universally acceptable.