In search of Entrepreneurial Masculinities: Exploring accomplishments, social constructions, ideals and hegemonies


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In the spaces where entrepreneurship occurs gendered norms and expectations exist to specify how entrepreneurial actors ‘should’ present themselves and interact. If entrepreneurs align their micro-level self-presentations and behaviours with the gendered ideals and expectations operating in a given space, or gendered regime, they heighten their chance of being seen as legitimate by others, including clients (Smith, 2013; Radu-Lefebvre et al, 2021). In contrast, the inability to comply to gendered norms and expectations results in penalisation (Vershinina and Rodgers, 2020) and stigma in entrepreneurs’ experiences both in public interactions (Giazitzoglu and Down, 2017) and in the private sphere (Hytti, Karhunen and Radu-Lefebvre, forthcoming). 

Ontologically, it is recognised that masculinity underpins the gendered norms and expectations relating to how entrepreneurs ‘should’ act and behave. Culture has equated masculinity and entrepreneurship as congruent and normative at a structural level (Adeeko and Treanor, 2022; Swail and Marlow, 2018). More specifically, White, heterosexual, elite middleclass masculinity and identity is normative and hegemonic in the contexts where entrepreneurship unfolds (Ogbor, 2000; Smith, 2010; Smith, 2021; Giazitzoglu and Wilson, 2023). Thus, entrepreneurial masculinity represents a structurally supplied ideal that entrepreneurs align their own identities in relation to. It influences and shapes ideal-typical entrepreneurial and corporate identities including the ‘CEO Body’ (Smith, 2023). However, this is not to essentialise the situation. Hegemonic masculinities – relating to entrepreneurship and other walks of life – are fleeting, fluid, relative notions that change in spaces and time (Giazitzoglu, 2022).

In this sense, we can talk of entrepreneurial masculinities (Hamilton, 2013) pluralistically and subjectively, recognising that what constitutes entrepreneurial masculinity is specific to space and time and applicable to both male and female genders because hegemonic identities are often discursively co-produced (Byrne, Radu-Lefebvre, Fatoum and Balachandra, 2021). In this regard, a number of insights have emerged which detail entrepreneurs reproducing and enacting entrepreneurial masculinities. Insights include ones into female entrepreneurs attempting to qualitatively ‘bridge that gulf between devalued feminised identities and the masculinised prototypical entrepreneur’ (Swail and Marlow, 2018: 257) and ‘negotiate the dissonance between their ascribed femininity and the masculinity inherent within entrepreneurship’ (Marlow & McAdam, 2015: 794). For example, investigations by Wee and Brooks (2012) and Bruni et al (2004) show female entrepreneurs reproducing ‘masculine’ behaviours, narratives and identities to gain fit and legitimacy in entrepreneurial contexts to compensate for their gender. Likewise, Rumens and Ozturk (2019) show gay male entrepreneurs trying to disguise homosexual masculinity to gain legitimacy in entrepreneurial contexts, where heterosexual masculinity is normative. Giazitzoglu and Korede (2023) show Black African immigrant male entrepreneurs dressing like White entrepreneurs and hiring White employees. They do so to align their identities withWhite entrepreneurial masculinity and ‘cover’ their Black masculinities, which can be discriminated against in local entrepreneurial networks although this might threaten theirexistential authenticity, as illustrated by van Merriënboer, Verver and Radu-Lefebvre (forthcoming) in their study of racial minority entrepreneurs in the Dutch technology sector. Giazitzoglu and Down (2017) show White, middleclass men – who appear to fit a-priori cultural expectations of entrepreneurial masculinity on account of their objective identities – dressing in certain ways, expressing specific political opinions and driving distinctive cars in order to bolster their status as legitimate entrepreneurial men within local networks. Failure to perform entrepreneurial masculinity in the semi-rural context studied by Giazitzoglu and Down can result in penalisation and exclusion for local entrepreneurs. Similarly, father entrepreneurs enact hybrid entrepreneurial masculinities which all evolve around the normative core of hegemonic masculinity in attempts to be acknowledged as a successful entrepreneur and a caring father. Finally, Smith (2021) and Giazitzoglu and Wilson (2023) show how an elite entrepreneurial identity is fashioned from semiotic and aesthetic sartorial elements of entrepreneurial identity.

Collectively, this work shows that structural level ideals exist which position and reposition entrepreneurial masculinities as constituting cultural ideals and constructs, which entrepreneurs reproduce in their micro-level identities (Smith, 2022). However, more empirical work is needed to explore what entrepreneurial masculinities – as a set of discursive practices – constitutes in different times and spaces, and how entrepreneurial actors engage with and reproduce entrepreneurial masculinity as part of their ongoing attempts to create legitimacy. Further, the consequences of successfully or unsuccessfully reproducing entrepreneurial masculinity within different entrepreneurs’ lived experiences requires analysis. 

This Special Issue is rooted in Exploring Entrepreneurial Masculinities, as distinct cultural constructs that are qualitatively manufactured and enacted with by entrepreneurial agents in specific empirical contexts. We seek papers that: 

  • Explore how Entrepreneurial Masculinities are accomplished and performed by actors – through symbolic identity-work and other means – and what impact the accomplishment of entrepreneurial masculinity has on entrepreneurial trajectories and processes. 
  • Consider what Entrepreneurial Masculinities constitute as cultural ideals and structurally supplied narratives in particular locales and contexts and also how these are socially constructed semiotically and aesthetically. 
  • Explore Entrepreneurial Masculinity in relation to Connell’s concept of Hegemonic Masculinity, thus showing how the presence and accomplishment of an entrepreneurial masculinity deemed hegemonic in a space and time subordinates ‘others’. This allows entrepreneurial masculinities to be read as a subordinating concept that can marginalise other men and women alike. 
  • Explore the multiple archetypes of entrepreneurial masculinities from diverse and complex intersecting contexts and examine the role of structure and agency in their construction and enactment.

List of Topic Areas

  • Entrepreneurial Masculinities, 
  • Power Inequalities related to Entrepreneurial Masculinity, 
  • Entrepreneurial Masculinities as social performance.

Submissions Information

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Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Deadlines

Submissions close: 30th April 2024


Adeeko, N and Treanor, L. (2022). ‘Negotiating stigmatised identities: Enterprising refugee women in the United Kingdom’. International Small Business Journal, 40 (1): 23-46. 
Byrne, J., Radu-Lefebvre, M., Fattoum, S., & Balachandra, L. (2021). Gender gymnastics in CEO succession: Masculinities, femininities and legitimacy. Organization Studies, 42(1), 129-159. 
Giazitzoglu, A. (2022). ‘Masculinity, embodiment and identity-work: How do organisational members use their bodies as identity resources to (re) accomplish hegemonic masculinity’. Organization.
Giazitzoglu, A and Down, S. (2017). ‘Performing entrepreneurial masculinity: An ethnographic account’. International Small Business Journal, 35 (1): 40-6. 
Giazitzoglu A and Korede, T. (2023). ‘Identity-work among Black African male immigrant entrepreneurs residing in Northern English regional contexts: A qualitative examination’. Journal of Business Research, 164: 113978. 
Giazitzoglu, A and Wilson, J (2023). "Nathan Meyer-Rothschild’s Reproduction of Business Masculinity in the Portrait A View from the Royal Exchange. A Historical, Bourdieusian and Visual Semiotic Exploration" . Journal of Organizational Sociology. 
Hamilton, E. (2013). The discourse of entrepreneurial masculinities (and femininities), Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 25(1-2): 90-99. 
Hytti, U., Karhunen, P., and Radu-Lefebvre, M. (2023). ‘Entrepreneurial Masculinity: A Fatherhood Perspective.’ Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 10422587231155863. 
Marlow, S and McAdam, M. (2015). ‘Incubation or induction? Gendered identity work in the context of technology business incubation’. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 39 (4): 791-816. 
Ogbor, J. (2000). ‘Mythicizing and reification in entrepreneurial discourse: Ideology-critique of entrepreneurial studies’. Journal of Management Studies, 37 (5): 605-635 
Radu-Lefebvre, M. Lefebvre, V; Crosina, E; Hytti, U. ‘Entrepreneurial Identity: A review and research agenda’. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 45 (6): 1550-1590. 
Rumens, N, and Ozturk, M. (2019). ‘Heteronormativity and the (re)construction of gay male entrepreneurial identities’. International Small Business Journal, 37 (7): 671-688. 
Smith, R. (2023). ‘Scrutinising the CEO Body: Visualising the aesthetics of embodied masculine corporate and entrepreneurial identities.’ ECSBE Masculinities Seminar. 
Smith, R. (2022). ‘Repositioning the Masculinity-Entrepreneurship Debate in the Literature.’ International Journal of Gender & Entrepreneurship: Ambassadors Issue. 14(4): 457-467. 
Smith, R. (2021). ‘Fashioning an elite entrepreneurial identity via the endorsement of gendered, designer dress codes and artefacts of success.’ International Journal of Entrepreneurship & Innovation, 22(4):251–265. 
Smith, R., (2010). ‘Masculinity, Doxa and the Institutionalisation of Entrepreneurial Identity in the Novel City Boy.’ The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Gender, 2(1): 27-48. 
Smith, R., (2013). Documenting Essex Boy: As a local gendered regime, International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, 5(2): 174 – 197. 
Swail, J and Marlow, S. (2018). ‘Embrace the masculine; attenuate the feminine’ – Gender, identity work and entrepreneurial legitimation in the nascent context’. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 30 (1–2): 256-28. 
Van Merriënboer, M., Verver, M. and Radu-Lefebvre, M. (forthcoming). ‘“Really being yourself”? Racial minority entrepreneurs navigating othering and authenticity through identity work’. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research.
Vershinina, N., & Rodgers, P. (2020). Symbolic capital within the lived experiences of Eastern European migrants: A gendered perspective. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 32(7-8), 590-605. 
Wee, L and Brooks, A. (2012). ‘Negotiating gendered subjectivity in the enterprise culture: Metaphor and entrepreneurial discourses’. Gender, Work and Organization, 19 (6): 573-591