University of Oulu

Sari Laari-Salmela, Tuija Mainela, Vesa Puhakka, Resolving the start-up identity crisis: Strategizing in a network context, Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 80, 2019, Pages 201-213, ISSN 0019-8501,

Resolving the start-up identity crisis : strategizing in a network context

Saved in:
Author: Laari-Salmela, Sari1; Mainela, Tuija1; Puhakka, Vesa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 4600, 90014, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2020-12-23


The objective of the present study is to examine the strategizing of start-ups in a network context. The paper depicts start-up strategizing as an intertwined activity of identification and boundary-drawing. The questions of network identity and network boundaries become salient in times of disengagement by a primary customer or when there is a need for significant redirection of the business during what is referred to as a network identity crisis. The study emphasizes the viewpoint of an entrepreneur as strategist and builds on the concept of network identity to stress the socially structured individual cognition of who the organization is in light of its network connections. We study strategizing in four start-ups with different identity crises. By applying a grounded theory approach and Gioia methodology, the paper models the dynamics of restart strategizing in terms of its internal and external triggers and the choices when managing three identity-related contradictions. Furthermore, we characterize four alternative restart strategies connected to the identities and boundaries perceived by the entrepreneurs. By embracing the way start-up’s identity and its strategy evolve interdependently in relation to the network dynamics, the model contributes to our understanding of those strategizing activities whereby restart can occur.

see all

Series: Industrial marketing management
ISSN: 0019-8501
ISSN-E: 1873-2062
ISSN-L: 0019-8501
Volume: 80
Pages: 201 - 213
DOI: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2017.12.010
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license