Abstract

Understanding the choice for self-employment has received increased attention in entrepreneurship research (Bates 1995, Delmar & Davidsson 2000, Katz 1992, Kolvereid 1996, Kolvereid & Isaksen 2006). Human capital is argued to play an important role in the identification of entrepreneurial opportunities (Shane 2000, Ucbasaran et al. 2003, Davidsson & Honig 2003), the choice to enter self-employment (Bates 1995), as well as for venture success and survival (Bates 1990, Bosma et al., 2004; Ucbasaran et al., 2008). Considered as a specific entrepreneurial resource (Baron, Frese, & Baum, 2007) it comprises multiple dimensions, including education and work experience (Cooper et al. 1994), cognitive characteristics (Alvarez & Busenitz 2001), specific market and industry know-how (Cooper et al. 1994), competencies (Chandler & Jansen 1992), parental role models / family background (Greene & Brown 1997), gender (Cooper et al. 1994), and age (Bates 1995, Aldrich 1999). The distinction in general (i.e. education, gender and age) and specific human capital (i.e. managerial abilities, technical abilities, entrepreneurial experience) can add valuable insights (Ucbasaran et al. 2003, 2008).

Graduates differ in their human capital settings. Different fields of study, level of work experience, and several personal characteristics and skills influence human capital. Which graduates are most likely to start a new venture? Which combination of human capital is favorable for choice to become self-employed? What determines the involvement of graduates in entrepreneurial activities immediately after their studies?

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