Research suggests that entrepreneurs persuade stakeholders to engage in risky projects in an uncertain future through visions, compelling narratives of the future. A unique challenge for entrepreneurs, however, is how entrepreneurs can construct a narrative that unites stakeholders with different perceptions of the degree of risk or uncertainty posed by the future. We address this question with a diegetic narrative model of stakeholder enrollment. Our primary argument is that, to reduce variation in how potential stakeholders view the future, a story must embed a vision of the future in a coherent and collectively held narrative of the past. We introduce rhetorical history as the primary construct throughwhich this occurs.We demonstrate howsuccessful visions employ historical tropes at the intradiegetic level to appeal to individual perceptions of risk or uncertainty and how those historical tropes are combined into meta-narratives or myths drawn from the collective memory of a community to create broad, extradiegetic appeal to broader categories of potential stakeholders with heterogeneous temporal orientations. Finally, we describe three categories of historical reasoning-teleology, presentism, and retro-futurism-that act as bridging mechanisms between past, present, and future that provides stakeholderswith an enhance sense of agency in the future.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Business, Management and Accounting
- Strategy and Management
- Management of Technology and Innovation