What Do Entrepreneurs Talk About When They Talk About Failure?

William B. Gartner, Amy E. Ingram

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This research focuses on “the rhetoric of entrepreneurial practice.” We conducted quantitative and qualitative linguistic analysis of ways that entrepreneurs talk about failure based on 89 usable transcriptions of presentations given at Stanford University between 2001 and 2013. Findings highlight: Entrepreneurs discuss failure as part of the social norm of entrepreneurship. Failure is paradoxically related to success. Entrepreneurs tend to characterize failure as positive and discuss positive failure using temporal (e.g., “fail fast”) and scalable (e.g., “leverage it”) language. Finally, entrepreneurs rarely recount personal stories or anecdotes about failure: they tended to talk in clichés.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2013
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventThe 33rd Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC) 2013 - Convention Centre of Lyon, Lyon, France
Duration: 4 Jun 20138 Jun 2013
Conference number: 33


ConferenceThe 33rd Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC) 2013
LocationConvention Centre of Lyon
SponsorEMLYON Business School
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