The older entrepreneurial event : entrepreneurial intentions in the third age
Stirzaker, Rebecca J.
MetadataShow full item record
Policy on older workers has focused on increasing labour market participation either by encouraging those unemployed or inactive back into work or by encouraging people to work up to and beyond retirement age. It has been argued that older entrepreneurship might enable older individuals to extend their working lives and support them to fund their retirement. However, academic investigation of this phenomenon has been limited. Where research has been conducted, it has predominantly been investigated quantitatively (e.g Kautonen et al. 2009; Kautonen 2012; Walker & Webster 2007). Through the lens of Shapero’s (1982) Entrepreneurial Event (SEE) theory, this research sought to investigate the intentions of ‘older’ entrepreneurship and the subsequent business and personal outcomes of engaging in entrepreneurship for older individuals in the UK. A qualitative research design within a Constructivist paradigm was used. Aligning with the Constructivist standpoint, multiple methods in the form of a qualitative survey (n = 70) and 20 in depth interviews were undertaken with UK based older entrepreneurs. Data was thematically analysed. Findings on motivations behind third age entrepreneurship found in this study are similar to those reported across the literature on small firms in terms of the reportage of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. However, current findings demonstrate that financial necessity does not appear to be a prevalent motivation for engaging in older entrepreneurship. Instead, importance was given to non-pecuniary motivating factors such as enjoyment and remaining active in older age. Motivations were also found to influence how the older entrepreneurs measured success in terms of business and personal outcomes. Success was not perceived only through traditional means related to growth and pecuniary earnings, with intrinsic motivations often prioritised over pecuniary factors for the majority of older entrepreneurs. Findings also verify that in the context of older entrepreneurship SEE theory appears to be an appropriate theoretical model for understanding the entrepreneurial intentions and behaviours of the study’s sample. However, findings suggest that the theory may be better presented so that the importance of context in the formation of entrepreneurial intention and behaviour is emphasised.