Understanding legitimacy building in contexts through digital entrepreneurship

Efe Imiren, Paul Lassalle, Samuel Mwaura, Katerina Nicolopoulou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper, through empirical evidence, presents a framework for exploring how entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of building legitimacy in a digital context. In so doing, this paper goes beyond the seemingly forgone conclusion that legitimacy is important for the entrepreneur's success by focusing on the contextualised mechanisms through which digital legitimacy is built.

Empirical findings are drawn from semi-structured interviews conducted with 21 digital entrepreneurs in Nigeria, a leading example of the West African context and analysed using a phenomenological approach.

The paper shows how digital entrepreneurs in a non-Western context draw on an aspect of legitimation in the digital space, and in particular, highlights three mechanisms via which this takes place, namely: digital shielding, digital curating and digital networking. Presented via an inductive approach, the three mechanisms described in the paper provide a scaffold for thinking about and understanding entrepreneurial legitimacy within a contextual framework, which incorporates institutional, cultural and digital dimensions.

This paper contributes to the literature on digital entrepreneurship by empirically identifying and theoretically elaborating themes that are important for understanding how entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of digital entrepreneurship and build entrepreneurial legitimacy in complex contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research (IJEBR)
Early online date3 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • digital entrepreneurship
  • context
  • legitimacy building
  • digital shielding
  • digital curating


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