A Social Identity Perspective on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Entrepreneurs’ Networking Behavior

Luke Fletcher, Valerio Incerti, Caroline Essers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We draw upon entrepreneurial network resource and social identity theories to advance our understanding of LGBT entrepreneurial behavior. We focus on what resources are acquired by LGBT entrepreneurs from LGBT-specific networks, such as entrepreneurs’ associations or chambers of commerce, and why they might engage with them.

Design/methodology/approach: As an initial scoping exercise, study one quantitatively examined the different resources acquired via a survey of 109 LGBT entrepreneurs from the UK, mainland Europe, and North America. Building on these findings, study two qualitatively explored why LGBT entrepreneurs acquire resources from and engage with LGBT-specific networks via interviews with 23 LGBT entrepreneurs (with representation from the UK, Mainland Europe, and North America).

Findings: Study one indicates that being more involved in LGBT-specific networks is associated with stronger resource acquisition, particularly those that are relational and psychological in nature. Study two reveals that such networks can act as psychologically safe holding environments where resources that fulfil needs for belonging and uniqueness are acquired.

Originality: We advance our understanding of LGBT entrepreneurs by connecting knowledge on entrepreneurship with that on applied psychology. We develop an original contribution by focusing on how LGBT entrepreneurs utilize LGBT specific networks to meet important psychological and relational needs, thus speaking to the importance of developing an LGBT entrepreneurial community that enables LGBT entrepreneurs to express their LGBT and entrepreneurial identities.

Practical implications: Our findings underscore the need for LGBT networks that are run for, and by, LGBT entrepreneurs. Such networks allow LGBT entrepreneurs to be more authentic about, and empowered by, their LGBT identity in their business such that they can develop a stronger sense of individual and collective pride in being part of an LGBT entrepreneurial community.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy
Publication statusAcceptance date - 1 Jul 2024

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