The Making of the Senior Entrepreneur: Heterogeneity and/or Homogeneity?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Elin VADELIUS, Department of Social and Psychological Studies, Karlstad University, Sweden
The Making of the Senior Entrepreneur: Heterogeneity and/or Homogeneity?

This paper presents results from a systematic research overview of studies on senior entrepreneurship. The paper will explore how previous studies construct the meaning of age, the category of the senior entrepreneur, and what the possible implications of these constructions are.

Entrepreneurship, in terms of business start-ups, is promoted by governments around the world as a way of creating jobs in increasingly insecure labour markets. In a similar vein, older people are encouraged to start their own business as a mean to extend their working lives. In research, there is also a growing interest in the phenomena of entrepreneurship in later life. This is a research field that has expanded considerably in later years and since research has the potential to influence policy, it is important to consider what kind of knowledge that is produced.

The results show that the research field as a whole is limited by an underdeveloped theoretical notion of age. The concept of age is mainly understood from a biological and chronological point of view and depicted as an objective fact. This restricts the chances to explore how other meanings of age, e.g. subjective age, influence motives and conditions relating to entrepreneurship. Further, a generic picture of the senior entrepreneur emerges; however, to a large extent, this generic picture excludes the experiences of entrepreneurs outside the western world since most studies have been conducted in the USA or a few European countries.

Departing from critical age studies, the paper argue that the research on senior entrepreneurship needs a more elaborated theoretical understanding of age if the field is to flourish. The paper also develop this argumentation with the help of life course theory.