Abstract

In August 2008, 12,000 athletes from 200+ countries will participate in Beijing’s Summer Olympics. Following the Games, many will join an estimated 600,000 retired athletes around the world. These world-class athletes invested most of their careers in competitive sports, developing unique and impressive stocks of psychological, human, social and financial capital to be leveraged in the pursuit of a new playing field: entrepreneurship. For example, Olympic-medaling gymnast Li Ning’s namesake footwear/apparel company outsells Nike in China and retired WNBA/three-time Olympic-gold-medalist Dawn Staley launched an ambitious social venture to improve at-risk students’ chances of attending college.

Given the limited research on entrepreneurial career transitions (Dyer, 1994; Burt, 2000; Greene et al., 2003), this study takes an explorative approach, drawing on theory of practice (Bourdieu, 1977) to examine the interaction of habitus (learned and innate cognitive schemas) and field (position in social structure) in entrepreneurship (following Elam, 2006; Drori, Honig & Ginsburg, 2006). Individual habitus captures syntactic (form/structure) and semantic (knowledge/relationships/experience) career capital (Bird, 1994). The practice outcome is the pursuit of an entrepreneurial career.

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