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Who chooses to become an entrepreneur? The Jacks-of-all-Trades in Social and Human Capital

  • Uschi Backes-Gellner


    (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich)

  • Petra Moog


    (University of Siegen)

This paper studies willingness to become an entrepreneur depending on an individual’s composition of human and social capital. Our theoretical analysis is an extension of Lazear’s (2005) jack-of-all-trades theory. Our primary implication is that it is not individuals with a higher level of human or social capital but rather individuals with a more balanced portfolio of human and social capital that are more willing than others to become entrepreneurs. We use survey data from a sample of more than 2000 German students to test this hypothesis and find that the jacks-of-all-trades, i.e. the more balanced individuals are more likely to become entrepreneurs. On the other hand, the Masters-in-One, i.e. the specialists, are better off being an employee and rightly prefer to be so.

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Paper provided by University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU) in its series Working Papers with number 0076.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iso:wpaper:0076
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  1. Silva, Olmo, 2006. "The Jack-of-All-Trades Entrepreneur: Innate Talent or Acquired Skill?," IZA Discussion Papers 2264, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Joulfaian, David & Rosen, Harvey S, 1994. "Sticking It Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 53-75, February.
  3. Wagner, Joachim, 2004. "Are Young and Small Firms Hothouses for Nascent Entrepreneurs? Evidence from German Micro Data," IZA Discussion Papers 989, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
  5. 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.
  6. Nicolaou, Nicos & Birley, Sue, 2003. "Academic networks in a trichotomous categorisation of university spinouts," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 333-359, May.
  7. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  8. John F. Helliwell & Robert D. Putnam, 1999. "Education and Social Capital," NBER Working Papers 7121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Daiji Kawaguchi, 2002. "Compensating Wage Differentials among Self-Employed Workers:Evidence from Job Satisfaction Scores," ISER Discussion Paper 0568, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
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