Birds of a feather don't always flock together: Identity management in entrepreneurship

Dean Shepherd, Michael Haynie

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


The act of entrepreneurship typically confers 'distinctiveness'. However, in satisfying the psychological need to be distinct, entrepreneurs may at the same time foster a psychological deficit in feelings of belonging, leading to diminished psychological wellbeing. Investigating this potential trade-off through the lens of Optimal Distinctiveness Theory, we develop and model strategies appropriate for managing multiple identities, offering an explanation for why some entrepreneurs are able to balance distinctiveness and belonging, fostering psychological well-being, while others are unable to do so and experience entrepreneurship's 'dark-side'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Psychological Approach to Entrepreneurship
Subtitle of host publicationSelected Essays of Dean A. Shepherd
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781783479801
ISBN (Print)9781783479795
StatePublished - Dec 26 2014


  • Distinctiveness theory
  • Entrepreneur
  • Entrepreneurial identity
  • Self-identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Psychology


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