Unpacking business incubators: Sensemaking, resource enacting practices, and emerging ventures

Qian Li, Paula Jarzabkowski

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In this paper, we intend to address how early stage start-ups do business incubation, which we define as entities that provide network and educational resources in the form of social events, coaching services, and masterclass, targeted at early-stage, emerging, pre-revenue start-ups. Guided by a practice lens and sensemaking perspective, we ask how start-ups make sense of resources provided by business incubators and how their practices of enacting resources implicate their emerging ventures strategically. Informed by a comparative case-based and grounded approach, we reveal how start-ups, incubated and unincubated, perceive resources provided by business incubators, how incubated start-ups’ views and experiences of resource indicate their practices of enacting resources, and how those practices implicate their emerging ventures compared to their unincubated counterparts. We found that business incubators intend to socialize participating start-ups into a predominated industry through resource practices, whereas participating start-ups make sense of those practices and enact resources in a way that more or less conform to such a context, regardless of their contradictory perceptions and experiences of those resources. We highlight context in understanding resource enactment of start-ups and potential institutional control of business incubators who are predominately embedded in one industry.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
EventAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management - Boston, United States
Duration: 8 Aug 201914 Aug 2019
Conference number: 79th


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the Academy of Management
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Unpacking business incubators: Sensemaking, resource enacting practices, and emerging ventures'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this