New dimensions on the economics of the entrepreneurial process

  • Alona Martiarena

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the transition of employees into entrepreneurship, with particular emphasis on the role of workplace characteristics in influencing this movement.
The first main chapter examines whether the determinants of becoming an intrapreneur
differ from those that support transitions into independent entrepreneurship. The
results show that intrapreneurs resemble employees rather than entrepreneurs, contrary to what the entrepreneurship theory would suggest. Yet it shows that those
intrapreneurs that expect to acquire an ownership stake in the business, unlike the
rest of intrapreneurs, possess traditional entrepreneurial traits. Chapter 3 investigates
how workers’ degree of specialisation determines their decision to found a firm. It
shows that entrepreneurs emerging from small firms, i.e. generalists, transfer knowledge from more diverse aspects of the business and create firms more related to the main activity of their last employer. Workers in large firms, however, benefit from
higher returns to human capital that increase their opportunity costs to switch to entrepreneurship. Since becoming an entrepreneur would make part of their specialised skills unutilised, the minimum quality of the idea at which they would be willing to leave will be higher and, therefore, entrepreneurs emerging from large firms will be of highest quality. Chapter 4 analyses whether the reason to terminate an employment contract is associated with the fact that the majority of entrepreneurs appear to set up their business after having worked for a small firm. Moreover, it studies how this pattern varies as the labour market conditions worsen. The effect of layoffs turns out to be a key driver in the entry to entrepreneurship and it is found to exert a greater effect the smaller the firm workers are dismissed from. This has been reflected in an overall larger flow of employees from small firms moving into entrepreneurship over the recession.
Date of Award9 Jan 2013
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJagannadha P Tamvada (Supervisor) & Mark Hart (Supervisor)


  • Entrepreneurship
  • self-employment
  • human capital
  • mobility
  • occupational choice

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