EIRC Internal Seminar – Federica Fusaro – “Anyone can be an entrepreneur”: how entrepreneurship myths affect trajectories of emancipation at a French incubator for disadvantaged individuals
Date: Tuesday, February 28th, 2023
Time: 12:00 to 13:30
Paper by: Federica Fusaro, Nevena Radoynovska, and Benjamin Huybrechts
On February 28th, 2023, Federica Fusaro presented a working paper co-authored with Nevena Radoynovska and Benjamin Huybrechts on different trajectories of emancipation at a French incubator targeting disadvantaged individuals.
This promising research engaged thoughtful comments from the audience, which included Christof Brandtner, Addis Birhanu, Jean Clarke, Saulo Dubard Barbosa, and many others.
“Anyone can be an entrepreneur”: how entrepreneurship myths affect trajectories of emancipation at a French incubator for disadvantaged individuals
by Federica Fusaro, Nevena Radoynovska, and Benjamin Huybrechts
Over the last decade, public policies have bet on entrepreneurship as a tool through which the untapped potential of marginalized groups could be leveraged. Along with public policies’ enthusiasm with entrepreneurship, the scholarship on emancipatory entrepreneurship has examined how marginalized groups can leverage entrepreneurial opportunities to achieve social mobility. In particular, this literature has looked at the role of supporting organizations in leveling the playing field and providing access to entrepreneurial resources to underprivileged groups, so that everybody can become an entrepreneur. Yet, more critical scholarship has stressed how normative assumptions on who is the typical entrepreneur have been acritically transposed from wealthy North American and European settings to contexts that don’t relate to the Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship. In this paper, we therefore ask how taken-for granted myths around entrepreneurship affect marginalized individuals’ trajectories of emancipation. We address these issues through a 2-year qualitative study of a French incubator targeting aspiring entrepreneurs from banlieues. We find that some entrepreneurs came in adhering to the model for emancipation defended by the incubator, aimed at elevating their ambition and providing them with codes to integrate more generalist entrepreneurial circles, others grew to adopt it over the course of the program, and others rejected particular aspects of it, namely the incubator’s expectations related to cultural and emotional codes. We show how access to Inclubator’s resources was facilitated or complicated for entrepreneurs depending which category they fell into.