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

Dean Shepherd, J. Michael Haynie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Scopus citations


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 well-being. 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)
Pages (from-to)316-337
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Business Venturing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009



  • Distinctiveness Theory
  • Entrepreneur
  • Entrepreneurial identity
  • Self-identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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