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Conference Paper BHPS-2007 Conference: the 2007 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 5 July -7 July 2007, Colchester, UK

Enterprise and the lifecourse of the entrepreneur and the household -abstract-


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Surprisingly little is known about enterprise across the lifecourse. Yet, this underresearched area of study is potentially very powerful in explaining triggers for entrance into, and exit from, small enterprise and in embedding understanding of enterprise development within the context of developing individual and family lives. Such a lifecourse perspective has won significant popularity in the sociological literature but has not been applied to the study of small enterprise. There are two strategies for approaching the subject: focus on the entrepreneur as an isolated individual and as embedded in the household. Within the first convention, analysis of enterprise across the lifecourse would take the entrepreneur as the unit of analysis and analyse how patterns of enterprise relate to age, career trajectories and lifecourse events (such as marriage, ill health, divorce etc). An alternative view is that entrepreneurship is more appropriately understood as embedded in the household. In this context, analysis of the relationship between enterprise and the lifecourse would take the household as its unit of analysis and, thus, analyse how patterns of enterprise relate to the lifecourse of the household. This would involve more complex analysis and be more demanding in terms of the data required. This research will utilise longitudinal analysis using data from the British Household Panel Survey. The power of the longitudinal analysis and the lifecourse perspectives as a framework for using social statistics to analyse social phenomena has received much acceptance in the past (see Bernard et al, 2005). This method is particularly useful for this research for at least three reasons: it measures the incidence of events (such as career trajectories, ageing and life events), it can estimate transition rates (such as formation of an enterprise) and most importantly it allows us to evaluate how strongly various factors are associated with these events and transitions over time. The availability of a large number of cases, from which the sample of those into enterprise can be isolated for analysis, is the other advantage. This paper analyses the research questions of how entrance and exit from enterprise relates to factors such as: age, career trajectories, life events, finance strategies and family dynamics, taking the individual entrepreneur as the unit of analysis . The results from this research will be useful to bring together two cutting-edge, yet under-researched areas of small business theory- enterprise across the lifecourse and in the micro-enterprise household- to develop an innovative theoretical framework for studying the participation in small enterprise across the lifecourse of the household. There has been little research in entrepreneurship exploiting this dataset and, indeed, providing longitudinal studies of entrepreneurship in general. Footnote: The analysis will use either regression or structural equation modelling.


Management: Business and Households



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