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Skill Variety, Innovation and New Business Formation

  • Hessels, Jolanda


    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Brixy, Udo


    (Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg)

  • Naudé, Wim


    (Maastricht University)

  • Gries, Thomas


    (University of Paderborn)

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 seems indeed more likely to successfully start up a new business and that 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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7889.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7889
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  1. 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.
  2. Vesa Kanniainen & Panu Poutvaara, 2007. "Imperfect Transmission of Tacit Knowledge and other Barriers to Entrepreneurship," CESifo Working Paper Series 2053, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2011. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 510-527, May.
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  9. Toft-Kehler, Rasmus & Wennberg, Karl & Kim, Phillip H., 2014. "Practice makes perfect: Entrepreneurial-experience curves and venture performance," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 453-470.
  10. Wagner, Joachim, 2002. "Testing Lazear’s Jack-of-All-Trades View of Entrepreneurship with German Micro Data," IZA Discussion Papers 592, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. 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.
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  14. Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 208-211, May.
  15. Erik Hurst & Benjamin Wild Pugsley, 2011. "What Do Small Businesses Do?," NBER Working Papers 17041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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  21. 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.
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