COMPLEX PATTERNS IN CONSTRUCTION OF ENTREPRENEURIAL IDENTITY AMONG YOUTH IN ESTONIA
The goal of the study was to assess entrepreneurial identity focusing on the beliefs and values such as individualism, risk-taking, innovativeness, opportunity recognition and tolerance. Methods: An Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) (Weinreich, 2003/2012) was applied as a meta-theoretical framework to conceptualize entrepreneurial identity and identification patterns among students with the image of an entrepreneur. A Bayesian dependency-modelling (Myllymäki et al, 2002) was applied to validate the cohesiveness of the research instrument. Results: This empirical study, carried out among the students of Tallinn University of Technology (n=45), shows similarities on shared dimensions across groups with varying entrepreneurial experience and differences on specific identity processes, particular to each group. These findings are evidenced when using ‘significant others’ as ‘a successful entrepreneur’ , ‘co-students’, ‘business circles’, ‘the government’, ‘family members’ and ‘ethno-cultural groupings’ as reference points within one’s identity structure. The results also demonstrate that dominant and increasing role of identifications with ‘father’ significantly contributes to one’s personal entrepreneurial development while simultaneous distancing from ‘co-students’ seems inevitable. At the same time, those who are tightly bound with their peers in their identifications are less likely to become successful entrepreneurs and their positive identifications with all family members have decreased continuously during their life span. Those who are and aspire to become entrepreneurs have much higher overall self-evaluation and tolerance, individualism and innovativeness form their core identity dimensions when compared to those who are less entrepreneurial and reveal collectivistic values. The results are consistent with earlier studies (MacNabb 2003/2012; Nabi et al 2010) and the application of ISA together with its methodological possibilities has been justified despite the small number participants. In the future, cross-cultural assessments of entrepreneurial orientation and identity should help to verify if the findings have universal validity or remain only applicable to the Estonian socio-cultural context.