Metaphorical Communication & Project Complexity in Equity Crowdfunding: A Contingency Perspective

Dennis Helding Jacobsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Extant literature on entrepreneurial sensemaking advises new ventures to use metaphorical communication – figurative linguistic expressions that introduce something novel by reference to something more tangible and less abstract – as a tool to give sense to and help make sense of their product offerings, and as a tool to shape the interpretations of others in order to gain their support. Yet, such advice stems from scant literature that largely rests upon theoretical conceptions highlighting the assumed benefits of metaphorical communication, not taking into consideration its potential adverse effects or contextual limitations. This thesis combines literature on rhetoric sensemaking and equity crowdfunding to create a more granular knowledge on the true nature of the effects of entrepreneurs’ use of metaphorical communication in an equity crowdfunding setting. Specifically, this thesis provides evidence for a contingency argument, theorising that a venture’s use of metaphorical communication is positively related to its equity crowdfunding success, but that such positive effect is contingent upon the degree of complexity of the venture’s product offering. The hypotheses raised in this thesis are examined in a profound analysis of 80 U.S. equity crowdfunding campaigns, comprising a full-sample of cases available at the time of sampling. The study confirms the suggested positive attributes derived from entrepreneurs’ use of metaphorical communication on equity crowdfunding success, while at the same time it provides strong indications of a contingency effect under which the impact of metaphorical communication on funding success increases with higher levels of complexity of a venture’s product offering. In developing and investigating these ideas, this thesis contributes to the recent discussions on drivers of success in equity crowdfunding, and brings additional early evidence of how the effect of metaphorical communication depends on its context of use.

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages91
SupervisorsDiego Stea