A Mature Entrepreneur –a New Social Role for Older Adults?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Justyna STYPIŃSKA, Free University Berlin, Germany
In traditional discourses entrepreneurs are pictured as young, dynamic, risk taking, adventurous (often) white males. This view excludes women, minority members, immigrants, as well as older persons. However, these atypical entrepreneurial models are gaining momentum, and among them – the mature entrepreneur (referred to also as grey). Research shows that in many industrialized countries the number of older entrepreneurs increased in the last decades much faster that the number of younger entrepreneurs, and their visibility increases also on socio-political agenda.

The expression “mature entrepreneur” possesses a twofold meaning. Mature in the sense of chronological age (such as 50+), and mature in terms of life and work experience, as well as social, human and (often) economic capital. This group represents those individuals, who start their entrepreneurial activity at later stages of their professional careers. As described by Ainsworth and Hardy (2008) an older entrepreneur is considered a “risky project”. With embarking on this new occupational path, the older entrepreneur takes on variety of risks that are common for all-age entrepreneurs (financial and legal risks of failure), as well as age specific risks of acting against certain age norms, social expectations and fixed behavioural patterns.

The question addressed in this presentation are:  what is the image(s) of a mature entrepreneur and how is it being constructed in public policy, as well as in social imagination? How is it related to the policy discourses and models of Active Ageing Agenda in Europe? What are the characteristics of an emerging model of mature entrepreneurship? The presentation will reflect on the literature and policy analysis regarding the creation of a new model for late life activity- mature entrepreneurship, as well as present some preliminary empirical evidence from an ongoing project.