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Skill Variety, Innovation and New Business Formation

  • Jolanda Hessels
  • U. Brixy
  • Wim Naudé
  • Thomas Gries

We extend Lazear’s theory of skills variety and entrepreneurship in three directions. First, we provide a theoretical framework linking new business creation with an entrepreneur’s skill variety. Second, in this model we allow for both generalists and specialists to possess skill variety. Third, we test our model empirically using data from Germany and the Netherlands. Individuals with more varied work experience seem indeed more likely to successfully start up a new business and being a generalist does not seem to be important in this regard. Finally, we find that innovation positively moderates the relationship between having varied experiences, and being successful in starting up a new business. Our conclusion is that entrepreneurs with more varied work experience are more likely to introduce innovations that have not only technical, but also commercial value. Our findings support the notion that entrepreneurship can be learned.

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Paper provided by EIM Business and Policy Research in its series Scales Research Reports with number H201013.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 14 Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eim:papers:h201013
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  1. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2007. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," Working Papers 107, Center for Global Development.
  2. Kanniainen, Vesa & Poutvaara, Panu, 2007. "Imperfect Transmission of Tacit Knowledge and Other Barriers to Entrepreneurship," IZA Discussion Papers 2859, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Rui Baptista & Murat Karaoez & Joana Mendonca, 2007. "Entrepreneurial Backgrounds, Human Capital and Start-up Success," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-045, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  4. Gries, Thomas & Naudé, Wim, 2011. "Entrepreneurship and human development: A capability approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3-4), pages 216-224, April.
  5. Stuetzer, Michael & Obschonka, Martin & Schmitt-Rodermund, Eva, 2012. "Balanced skills among nascent entrepreneurs," MPRA Paper 37524, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  7. Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 208-211, May.
  8. Simon, Mark & Houghton, Susan M. & Aquino, Karl, 2000. "Cognitive biases, risk perception, and venture formation: How individuals decide to start companies," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 113-134, March.
  9. Stuetzer, Michael & Goethner, Maximilian & Cantner, Uwe, 2012. "Do balanced skills help nascent entrepreneurs to make progress in the venture creation process?," MPRA Paper 39115, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  11. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-48, August.
  12. Toft-Kehler, Rasmus & Wennberg, Karl & Kim, Phillip, 2013. "Practice Makes Perfect: Entrepreneurial-Experience Curves and Venture Performance," Ratio Working Papers 210, The Ratio Institute.
  13. J. Wagner, 2003. "Testing Lazear's jack-of-all-trades view of entrepreneurship with German micro data," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(11), pages 687-689.
  14. Michael Stuetzer & Martin Obschonka & Per Davidsson & Eva Schmitt-Rodermund, 2013. "Where do entrepreneurial skills come from?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(12), pages 1183-1186, August.
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521728355 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  17. Elisabeth Bublitz & Florian Noseleit, 2014. "The skill balancing act: when does broad expertise pay off?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 17-32, January.
  18. Joachim Wagner, 2006. "Are nascent entrepreneurs 'Jacks-of-all-trades'? A test of Lazear's theory of entrepreneurship with German data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(20), pages 2415-2419.
  19. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
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