World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship
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World Encyclopedia of Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana

This comprehensive reference work, written by some of the most eminent academics in the field, contains entries on numerous aspects of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 36: Mature-age Entrepreneurship

Paull C. Weber and Michael T. Schaper


Paull C. Weber and Michael T. Schaper MATURE ENTREPRENEURS Business researchers, policy-makers and practitioners have used many varied terms to describe those in self-employment who in their ‘latter years’ determine to own (or continue to own) and operate a business venture. Synonymous terms include: ● ● ● ● ● ● ● grey entrepreneurs (Weber and Schaper, 2004) senior entrepreneurs, or seniorpreneurs (Goldberg, 2000) golden entrepreneurs (Arkebauer, 1995) second career entrepreneurs (Baucus and Human, 1994) third age entrepreneurs ((Blackburn et al., 1998) elder entrepreneurs (De Bruin and Dupuis, 2003) mature small business owners (Weber, 2006). While there has been a recent tendency to use the phrase ‘grey entrepreneur’, this has some negative connotations; accordingly, the term ‘mature entrepreneur’ or ‘mature age entrepreneur’ is preferred. The ‘mature’ terminology adopted also has resonance with the generational segmentation descriptions utilized by authors such as Still et al. (2004). All of these terms are descriptors which recognize that there are significant behavioural, resource and motivational differences between older and younger entrepreneurs. These patterns begin to become noticeable somewhere between 45 and 55 years of age. Studies that specifically look at mature entrepreneurs have only emerged in the past two decades (see, for example, Blackburn et al., 2000; Karoly and Zissimopoulos, 2004; Kean et al., 1993; Singh and DeNoble, 2003) Some studies have pointed out that the age of the business owner can have a direct impact on the business, as older individuals typically have lower levels of personal energy, but more commercial and life experience, more accumulated financial assets that can be...

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