A Research Companion
Edited by Mustafa F. Özbilgin and Ayala Malach-Pines
Chapter 16: Age of Opportunity? Career Making and Learning for Mid-career Entrepreneurs
David Rae INTRODUCTION – WHY EXPLORE CAREER MAKING AND LEARNING FOR MID-CAREER ENTREPRENEURS? The purpose of this chapter is to explore the concept of mid-career entrepreneurship, especially in relation to career making as a learning process. Mid-career entrepreneurs (MCEs) are those who, aged approximately 35–55, decide to start a business venture. Generally this follows a period as an employee, for example as a manager, professional or technical specialist, and represents a voluntary or enforced career change. The decision to become an MCE is therefore to choose self-determination of future economic prosperity, career and personal identity over the prospective beneﬁts of being an employee. The issues of career making for managers and entrepreneurs in midcareer are explored from a learning perspective, since prior experience and learning are fundamental to the decision to become an entrepreneur. Recent research and educational policy on entrepreneurship, at least in the UK as well as more generally in Europe, has emphasized young and graduate entrepreneurs at the start of their careers (Hannon, 2004; Pittaway and Cope, 2005). Without detracting from the importance of this age group, it is increasingly evident that MCEs are a group of growing economic and social signiﬁcance. They are responsible for an expanding proportion of entrepreneurial activity and may well constitute the majority of entrepreneurs, yet little research has been published on this group, nor in connection with the learning and career-making issues associated with them (Rae, 2005a). This focus on learning and career making is central to mid-career entrepreneurship...