The rise of the ‘dropout entrepreneur’: Dropping out, ‘self-reliance’ and the American myth of entrepreneurial success

Peter Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to understand the rise of ‘the dropout’ as a central figure in the wider myth of entrepreneurial success. Over the past decade, a large number of ‘tech entrepreneurs’ share a success that is often attributed to the fact that they ‘dropped out’ from their respective universities. To address this, the paper begins by exploring the inherent irony that a number of high-profile ‘dropout entrepreneurs’ have given graduation commencement speeches: the irony being that their narrative of success and hope is articulated to those who, as graduates, can never follow this path. From this, the paper traces the cultural lineage of ‘dropping out’ over the latter half of the twentieth century from a position of denigration to the embodiment of the celebrated values of entrepreneurship and its central association with ‘self-reliance’ as an ideal that continues to underpin the ‘American Myth of Entrepreneurial Success.’
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-43
Number of pages25
JournalCulture and Organization
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date13 Dec 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

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