Exploring Entrepreneurial Exit through the Lens of Identity and Learning: A Narrative Approach to Serial Entrepreneurs’ Exit Experiences

Paulina Albrecht & Sarah Kraus

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this master’s thesis is to explore serial entrepreneurs’ previous exit experiences with a focus on identity construction and entrepreneurial learning.

In a hermeneutic constructivist study, a theoretically developed framework assisted in analyzing the qualitative data in a narrative approach. To this end, six serial entrepreneurs were interviewed to extract stories about their individual experiences with and in the context of exiting ventures. The data was interpreted structurally by applying Burke's pentad and thematically by means of in-depth narrative analysis.

The findings reveal that serial entrepreneurs assess their exit experiences based on their respective identification and the entrepreneurial context. A nuanced learning model based on individual reflections leads to learning and eventually sensemaking, resembling a patchwork process. By drawing on generalizations and figurative language, serial entrepreneurs emphasize their identification with their particular community. The findings suggest serial entrepreneurs perceive exit as norm within their occupation.

The research provides insights into the special case of serial entrepreneurs and their narratives surrounding exits. The theoretical model, in connection with the empirical findings, complements existing literature as it consolidates entrepreneurial exit, serial entrepreneurship, learning, and identity in a unifying study. This thesis extends the existing literature on serial entrepreneurs and their individual attitudes towards exit. By developing a better understanding of serial entrepreneurs’ exits through the nuanced learning model, practitioners such as investors and educators can provide support and adjust expectations.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages129
SupervisorsDaniel Hjorth