Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Lisa Gundry

Second Advisor

Grace Lemmon

Third Advisor

Maija Renko


In the United States, entrepreneurs assume a pivotal role in creating jobs, driving innovation and productivity growth, and contributing to the success of the national economy. An often-overlooked segment of this population, Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces create nearly $1 trillion in cash receipts, employ nearly six million Americans, and lead one of every six entrepreneurial initiatives. This study was an investigation of the founder social identities of the 10% of veterans who become entrepreneurs: Darwinism, communitarian, and missionary. Additionally, this study was a means to assess the relationship between specific identities, innovation, financing pattern, and entrepreneurial commitment among veteran entrepreneurs. The analysis showed that participants were significantly more likely to identify with Darwinism than communitarian or missionary social identity types. There was no significant difference between the communitarian and missionary social identity types. Regarding the effect of social identity type on commitment to entrepreneurship, the Darwinian social identity type positively predicted commitment when controlling for the other predictors. Testing the effect of social identity type on innovation using three multiple regression models did not predict a significant amount of variance in the mean of the innovation scale. A multiple regression testing the effects of social identity type on complexity of financing methods showed that identity type had no impact on the complexity of financing methods. Veterans often reflect the best of society as men and women who chose to serve their nation. Identity is central to the entrepreneurial process as it influences the firm formation and effects. Although several scholars have highlighted identity as an essential predictor of entrepreneurial success, few have investigated social identity in the context of entrepreneurship. This study was the first effort, to the best of my knowledge, to examine the social identity of veteran entrepreneurs. Its potential contribution is to aid in better understanding the potential strengths and vulnerabilities that characterize the motivations, challenges, barriers, successes, and resource needs of veteran entrepreneurs. In addition, the findings could have meaningful implications that can encourage and support successful veteran entrepreneurship for decades to come.