Exploring Legitimacy in Entrepreneurship Education: Towards a Theoretical Framework


  • Andreas Walmsley Plymouth Marjon University
  • Birgitte Wraae UCL University College Denmark




entrepreneurship education, legitimacy, institutional environment, pedagogy, discourse analysis


Adopting Suchman’s (1995) conceptualisation of legitimacy within organisations, this study seeks to understand firstly, how entrepreneurship education itself has been legitimised, secondly, how entrepreneurship educators are legitimised, and lastly, how pedagogical approaches in EE are legitimised. The theoretical framework for the paper distinguishes between institutional legitimacy and strategic legitimacy. We seek to both understand how societal institutions (e.g. policy makers, industry) frame entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education, and how HE institutions in turn respond strategically to this framing. These legitimisation strategies can be framed as being ‘pragmatic’, ‘moral’ and ‘cognitive’ (Suchman, 1995). The study will draw on data drawn from the UK in the first instance.

Author Biography

Birgitte Wraae, UCL University College Denmark

Dr. Birgitte Wraae, is an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship,  at UCL University College Denmark, Denmark. Her research interests are in entrepreneurship, especially entrepreneurship education: the role of the entrepreneurship educator, identity formation, emancipation, and reflection. She excels in doing research in connection with the entrepreneurial learning space.