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Are the self-employed really jacks-of-all-trades? Testing the assumptions and implications of Lazear's theory of entrepreneurship with German data

  • Lechmann, Daniel S. J.
  • Schnabel, Claus

Using a large representative German data set and various concepts of self-employment, this paper tests the 'jack-of-all-trades' view of entrepreneurship by Lazear (AER 2004). Consistent with its theoretical assumptions we find that self-employed individuals perform more tasks and that their work requires more skills than that of paid employees. In contrast to Lazear's assumptions, however, self-employed individuals do not just need more basic but also more expert skills than employees. Our results also provide only very limited support for the idea that human capital investment patterns differ between those who become self-employed and those ending up in paid employment.

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 75.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:faulre:75
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.arbeitsmarkt.wiso.uni-erlangen.de/english-version/

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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 208-211, May.
  2. Åstebro, Thomas & Thompson, Peter, 2011. "Entrepreneurs, Jacks of all trades or Hobos?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 637-649, June.
  3. Dirk Oberschachtsiek, 2012. "The experience of the founder and self-employment duration: a comparative advantage approach," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 39(1), pages 1-17, July.
  4. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2011. "Personality characteristics and the decision to become and stay self-employed," Discussion Papers 2011/9, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  5. Wagner, Joachim, 2003. "Are Nascent Entrepreneurs Jacks-of-All-Trades? A Test of Lazear's Theory of Entrepreneurship with German Data," IZA Discussion Papers 911, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  7. Joop Hartog & Mirjam van Praag & Justin van der Sluis, 2008. "If you are so smart, why aren't you an entrepreneur? Returns to cognitive and social ability: Entrepreneurs versus employees," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-084, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
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  17. Elisabeth Bublitz & Florian Noseleit, 2011. "The Skill Balancing Act: Determinants of and Returns to Balanced Skills," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-025, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
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  20. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Petra Moog, 2007. "Who chooses to become an entrepreneur? The Jacks-of-all-Trades in Social and Human Capital," Working Papers 0076, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
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