Purpose – To understand how narratives used by entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) in Detroit’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem shape transitional entrepreneurs’ social reality. We offer theoretical and practical insights to elicit critical support, formulate policies and programs and guide ongoing empirical examination of transitional entrepreneurship.
Design/methodology/approach – We adopt a multi-case study approach, looking at two ESOs in Detroit: one focused on promoting high-growth entrepreneurship and securing financial capital for technology entrepreneurs, the other focused on promoting everyday entrepreneurship (especially among underserved communities) and amassing a more diverse array of resources. We conduct a thematic analysis of organizational texts and interview data with ESO leaders.
Findings – ESO narratives shape Detroit’s transitional entrepreneurs by constructing entrepreneurs’ social identity, orienting them to the ecosystem and envisioning a collective future in which transitional entrepreneurs are key.
Originality/value – This study offers insight into the definition of transitional entrepreneurs by extending existing conceptions by highlighting the role of institutional actors, like ESOs, and the narratives they adopt in shaping opportunities and challenges for transitional entrepreneurs. Moreover, we push the boundaries of transitional entrepreneurship, including technology start-up entrepreneurs in the definition and call attention to the role of transitional entrepreneurs in post-industrial cities by showcasing their role in community and urban development.
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Lucas, A. and Mitra, R. (2023), "Entrepreneurial support organization (ESO) narratives and transitional entrepreneurship in Detroit", New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 130-151. https://doi.org/10.1108/NEJE-08-2022-0060