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What makes a 'jack-of-all-trades'?


  • Oberschachtsiek, Dirk


"This paper addresses the 'Jack-of-all-Trades' hypothesis, which presumes that it is individuals' variety of competencies/experience that drives entrepreneurship instead of their level of productivity (Lazear, 2005). The analysis focuses on two related dimensions of this variety argument: taste for variety (identified due to desire) and investment in ability (identified due to competence). First, the results show that it is important to distinguish between discrete and high level investments in the variety of experience. For instance, a high level of investment - which defines a 'Jack-of-all-Trades' - is less correlated with formal schooling than discrete investments. Second, the results indicate that both taste (desire) and ability (competence) correlate with the variety of experience, but the nature of the correlation differs. Particularly for males, the 'Jack-of-all-Trades'-hypothesis predominately relates to competence and not to desire." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku) ((en))

Suggested Citation

  • Oberschachtsiek, Dirk, 2009. "What makes a 'jack-of-all-trades'?," IAB Discussion Paper 200910, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
  • Handle: RePEc:iab:iabdpa:200910

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard V. Burkhauser & Michaela Kreyenfeld & Gert G. Wagner, 1997. "The German Socio-Economic Panel: A Representative Sample of Reunited Germany and its Parts," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 66(1), pages 7-16.
    2. Alejandro Donado & Klaus Wälde, 2008. "Trade Unions Go Global!," CESifo Working Paper Series 2368, CESifo Group Munich.
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    Cited by:

    1. Backes-Gellner, Uschi & Moog, Petra, 2013. "The disposition to become an entrepreneur and the jacks-of-all-trades in social and human capital," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 55-72.

    More about this item


    Unternehmenserfolg - Determinanten; Humankapital; unternehmerische Qualifikation; Fachkenntnisse; berufliche Qualifikation; Berufserfahrung; Kompetenz; Geschlechterverteilung; Lebensalter;

    JEL classification:

    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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