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NOTE: Since 2009 the title of the International Journal of Entrepreneurship Education (IJEE) has been changed to the title above.  ISSN numbers: IJEE 1649-2269 and IRE 2009-2822

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ISSN Number: 2009-2822. Frequency: 4 Issues per year (online only)  

Article #1619 - How Corporate Entrepreneurs Navigate Rule Breaking Behaviors to Create Positive Impressions

IRE Vol 18: Issue 1, 2020, Pages 33-72

Author(s): Rangapriya (Priya) Kannan-Narasimhan (School of Business, University of San Diego, US, & University of Exeter Business School, Exeter, UK)

This study uses an Entrepreneurship as Practice (EAP) approach, specifically Goffman’s dramaturgical lens, to address: what practices do corporate entrepreneurs use to cultivate positive impressions, while simultaneously engaging in rule-breaking to accomplish their innovations? While decision-makers in large organizations typically disapprove of employees who break rules, corporate entrepreneurs often see rules as inhibiting innovation. Corporate entrepreneurs face an interesting conundrum: they must undermine organizational processes to launch their innovation, while simultaneously gaining decision-makers’ support. Although extant theory suggests that successful innovators operate under the radar, it remains silent on the specific practices they engage in to create and maintain positive impressions with their decision makers. Based on archival data and 138 interviews with decision-makers and corporate entrepreneurs, I find that through dramaturgical realization the latter successfully demonstrated that their rule-breaking was pro-social in nature. This study’s theoretical contributions lie in using the newly emerging EAP lens to identify how corporate entrepreneurs’ impression management practices connect with the practices of the larger organization, thereby contributing to both corporate entrepreneurship and impression management literatures. This study’s practical contributions lie in sensitizing corporate entrepreneurs on how to manage impressions when engaging in (prosocial) rule-breaking.