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Entrepreneurship

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  • Edward P. Lazear

Abstract

The theory proposed below is that entrepreneurs are jacks-of-all-trades who may not excel in any one skill, but are competent in many. A coherent model of the choice to become an entrepreneur is presented. The primary implication is that individuals with balanced skills should be more likely than others to become entrepreneurs. The model provides implications for the proportion of entrepreneurs by occupation, by income and yields a number of predictions for the distribution of income by entrepreneurial status. Using a data set of Stanford alumni, the predictions are tested and found to hold. In particular, by far the most important determinant of entrepreneurship is having background in a large number of different roles. Further, income distribution predictions, e.g., that there are a disproportionate number of entrepreneurs in the upper tail of the distribution, are borne out.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear, 2002. "Entrepreneurship," NBER Working Papers 9109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9109
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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1994. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 299-322 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Timothy Bates, 1985. "Entrepreneur Human Capital Endowments and Minority Business Viability," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 20(4), pages 540-554.
    3. de Meza, David & Southey, Clive, 1996. "The Borrower's Curse: Optimism, Finance and Entrepreneurship," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 375-386, March.
    4. 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 808-827, August.
    5. 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 719-748, August.
    6. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1994. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 334-347, Summer.
    7. Otani, Kiyoshi, 1996. "A Human Capital Approach to Entrepreneurial Capacity," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 273-289, May.
    8. Bates, Timothy, 1990. "Entrepreneur Human Capital Inputs and Small Business Longevity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 551-559, November.
    9. Holmes, Thomas J & Schmitz, James A, Jr, 1990. "A Theory of Entrepreneurship and Its Application to the Study of Business Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(2), pages 265-294, April.
    10. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-535, June.
    11. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1990. "Entrepreneurial Success and Occupational Inheritance among Proprietors," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 563-579, August.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
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    JEL classification:

    • J4 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets

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