Post-failure impression management: A typology of entrepreneurs’ public narratives after business closure

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What are the strategies entrepreneurs apply to present business closure to public audiences? Most entrepreneurs choose to communicate venture failure publicly so as to foster a favorable impression of failure, in effect engaging in impression management to maintain and/or repair their professional reputation for future career actions. To date, however, the focus of most research has been on managing failure within organizational settings, where organizational actors can interact closely with their audiences. We know little about entrepreneurs’ strategies in presenting failure to public audiences in cases where they have limited opportunities for interaction. In response to this, we present an analysis of public business-closure statements to generate a typology of five venture-failure narratives—Triumph, Harmony, Embrace, Offset, and Show—that explains entrepreneurs’ distinct sets of impression-management strategies to portray failure in public. In conclusion, we theorize from our public venture-failure typology to discuss how our work advances understanding of the interaction between organizational failure, impression management, and entrepreneurial narratives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)286-318
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2021
Externally publishedYes