Small Business Economics

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 129–152 | Cite as

Entrepreneurial career paths: occupational context and the propensity to become self-employed

  • Alina SorgnerEmail author
  • Michael FritschEmail author


We investigate the relationship between characteristics of an occupation-specific environment and the decision of employees to start an own business. A relatively high occupation-specific unemployment risk and high earnings risk are conducive to opt for self-employment. Also, occupations that are characterized by high self-employment rates foster entrepreneurial choice among their employees. The results suggest that career choices of future entrepreneurs are driven by different motivations than those of non-entrepreneurs. In particular, the expectation of a pronounced financial gain is critical for future entrepreneurs when they make their initial occupational choices in paid employment and it is also relevant for a self-employment choice. We find that when future entrepreneurs enter the labor market, they are more likely to choose occupations that require a relatively high variety of skills.


Entrepreneurial choice Occupation-specific determinants of entrepreneurship Employment risk Earnings risk Skill variety 

JEL classification

L26 J24 D01 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and Business AdministrationFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Kiel Institute for the World EconomyKielGermany

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