Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business (Research)


Institute of Technology, Tralee

First Advisor

Ms. Breda O'Dwyer

Second Advisor

Mrs. Brigid Crowley


This study examines the role of the mentor on the identity construction of the Nascent Entrepreneur. It aims to answer the questions on how the mentor supports the creation and growth of their business, encourages them to experiment, stimulates their reflexivity and opens and encourages the network opportunity for them. This is examined through a formal mentoring programme known as the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development programme, designed by Enterprise Ireland and managed by the local Institutes of Technology. This thesis researches the relationship that develops between the mentor and the mentee, the mentoring life cycle and the tools and techniques used during the lifetime of the relationship.

The research consisted of a literature review in the area of entrepreneurship, mentorship and identity construction. A pilot study was conducted with the Institute of Technology MBA participants prior to the engagement with the main research population. An empirical study was conducted with the participants of the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme to test the literature findings and to bridge any gaps in the literature, fhe empirical research involved a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches to analyse the lived experiences of the Nascent Entrepreneurs. The main qualitative approaches included Pictor technique and interviews while the main quantitative approaches consisted of Predictive Index personality testing and a survey based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour.

The research population consisted of 10 mentoring pairs, that is mentors and the Nascent Entrepreneurs who volunteered to take part in the study, the entrepreneurs were located in the south-west region of Ireland and progressed to Phase 2 of the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development programme.

The findings from the literature review and empirical research were accumulated and analysed to propose potential improvements to the programme by optimising the role of the mentor.

This thesis found that the role of the mentor does indeed have a role in the identity construction of the Nascent Ehitrepreneur however, this is limited due to the structure and the time allowed on this formal mentoring programme, fhis research also found that the process of matching the mentor and the mentee is not given sufficient attention and importance in the programme. It is important to note that Nascent Entrepreneurs had a good perception of the value of mentoring. However, the formal mentoring relationship did not meet their expectations, fhe lack of training in mentoring techniques and soft-skills sub-optimizes the contribution of the mentor. Without the required input from the mentor, building of networks, the development of the entrepreneurial mind-set which promotes reflexivity and experimentation is hindered. This supports the need for on-going research in this area. Based on the findings there is an urgent need for Enterprise Ireland' to review their allocation criteria and the structure of the mentoring programme and relationships.

The author recommends the following research areas for future investigation; the lifecycle of the entrepreneurial identity construction; mentoring lifecycle in a formal business start-up programme; the application of the theory of planned behaviour pre-and post-engagement in a mentoring relationship; the concept of the mentoring team on the New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme; and lastly the development of best practice with regard to the allocation of the mentor and the mentee in a formal mentoring programme.'

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