The art of the pivot: how new ventures manage identification relationships with stakeholders as they change direction

  • Christian E. Hampel (Contributor)
  • Paul Tracey (Contributor)
  • Klaus Weber (Contributor)



Many new ventures have to pivot – radically transform what they are about – because their original approach has failed. However, pivoting risks disrupting relationships with key stakeholders, such as user communities, who identify with ventures. Stakeholders may respond by withdrawing support and starving ventures of the resources needed to thrive. This can pose an existential threat to ventures, yet it is unclear how they can manage this problem. To explore this important phenomenon, we conduct a qualitative process study of The Impossible Project, a photography venture which encountered significant resistance from its user community as it pivoted from an analog focus to an analog-digital positioning. We develop a process model of stakeholder identification management that reveals how ventures can use identification reset work to defuse tensions with stakeholders whose identification with the venture is threatened. A core finding is that ventures can remove the affective hostility of stakeholders and rebuild connections with many of them by exposing their struggles, thus creating a bond focused around these shared experiences. We offer contributions to scholarship on identification management, user community identification, and pivoting.
Date made availableApr 15 2019
PublisherAcademy of Management

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