Inequality, Opportunities, and Entrepreneurship
mail: marie [dot] unger [at] wzb [dot] eu
The study of entrepreneurship is divorced from mainstream sociological understandings of labor markets and inequality: students of entrepreneurship have a poor understanding of how the structure of the attainment process shapes entrepreneurship, and students of labor market processes have a limited understanding of the drivers of entrepreneurial choice. In this paper, we develop a theoretical framework linking entrepreneurial entry to structural features of the attainment process, embedding entrepreneurship in the structure of inequality in labor markets. In our model, people become more likely to choose entrepreneurship when the attainment process affects the mix of advancement opportunities available through either paid employment or entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is then driven by matching processes between workers and employers, as well as structural features of opportunity structures in paid employment. Analyses using Danish census data provide support for empirical implications derived from the model.
Jesper B. Sørensen is Professor of Organizational Behavior, Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellow for 2010-2011, Stanford University.