This study investigates how instrumental and emotional support from family differentiates between the vocational decision to become self-employed and the vocational decision to become employed in an existing organization.

The study makes two original contributions to existing entrepreneurship theory. First, apart from integrating nascent entrepreneurship research with career choice theory, it overcomes hitherto lopsided focus on instrumental support. Instrumental support denotes advice and information individuals obtain from their networks. By contrast, this study builds on social support theory to investigate emotional aspects of support as well (Agneessens et al. 2006).

Second, debate continues as to whether or not women are disadvantaged as employees and self-employed. Although the empirical evidence is mixed, it is often argued that women lack suitable and effective networks. We investigate whether or not men and women are equally likely to obtain instrumental and emotional support respectively.