Mature entrepreneurship – understood as business start-ups by individuals aged 50-plus – has attracted a lot of recent research and policy interest. Within the socio-economic context of population ageing, the promotion of mature entrepreneurship is a prospective policy option to prolong the working lives of ageing people, increase their social inclusion, reduce older-age unemployment and enhance the innovative capacity of the economy by employing the human and social capital of mature individuals through new innovative start-ups. However, the research on mature entrepreneurship is still at a nascent stage, thus lacking coherent research programs that account for the full empirical heterogeneity of the phenomenon.
This research contributes to the closure of this knowledge gap by developing an inter-disciplinary research agenda to investigate the characteristics, scope and socio-economic contributions of mature entrepreneurship. The research pays particular attention to the individual life course and the social and cultural factors that impact on enterprising activity at mature ages. More specifically, this research project sets out to develop an encompassing and profound understanding of:
Who starts businesses aged 50-plus?
What drives and hinders their entrepreneurial ambitions?
What aims and expectations do they embark on a late entrepreneurial career with?
Furthermore, the study investigates the process of how an entrepreneurial endeavor develops, from the initial formation of an intention to start a business, to the establishment of a new business venture. The research process involves advanced cross-disciplinary theory development and a combination of qualitative and quantitative empirical research. The cross-regional empirical study will be conducted in two regions in Austria: Upper Austria and Vienna.
The contribution of the research is three-fold:
- It contributes to the entrepreneurship literature by systematically integrating the (mature) individual’s life and career history and the related lifelong socialization processes into the motivations and competencies that drive entrepreneurial activity. Moreover, by developing and testing a theory of how mature individuals develop their initial entrepreneurial intentions into business start-ups, the study makes a significant contribution to the cognitive theory of entrepreneurship
- By increasing our understanding of the role of entrepreneurship as a late-career option and the role of ageing individuals in the economy and society more generally, the study also contributes to relevant debates in human resource management, sociology of work and labor economics literatures
- The study also has practical implications to guide enterprise support and policy aimed to encourage and develop mature entrepreneurship. In addition to publications in scientific journals, these practical recommendations are summarized in an action plan for entrepreneurs and policy makers
- Hatak, I., Kautonen, T., Fink, M. 2013. Senior-Unternehmertum. Empirische Evidenz aus 27 europäischen Ländern. Die Betriebswirtschaft (DBW) 73 (1): 7-26.
- Kautonen, T., Koponen, A., Fink, M. 2010. Das unternehmerische Potential der älteren Bevölkerung in Europa und den USA. Wirtschaftspolitische Blätter 57 (3): 248-261