Social entrepreneurship shaped by the life course: a case study of older social entrepreneurs in the UK

Stumbitz, Bianca (2013) Social entrepreneurship shaped by the life course: a case study of older social entrepreneurs in the UK. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

Download (3MB) | Preview


Social entrepreneurship (SE) is a phenomenon of growing interest around the world. However, little is known regarding the characteristics of social entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurial behaviour also remains poorly understood. Although the need for research on particular groups of social entrepreneurs has been acknowledged, there currently is a dearth of literature specifically on older social entrepreneurs. This mixed methods study provides important insight into the diversity of social entrepreneurs over 50 and their SE activities, taking into consideration the different ways in which individual experiences are embedded in social, cultural and educational/professional backgrounds. The focus on older people in this research has also brought to light how individual pathways into SE are shaped by stages and events in people’s lives. The life course approach adopted reveals the complex and evolving nature of SE motivations which cannot be understood in isolation from other aspects of individuals’ past, present and plans for future lives. A related key question addressed is whether social entrepreneurs become more or less risk averse with age. The research contributes to knowledge in three main ways. First, an empirically based typology is developed which reflects the spectrum of social entrepreneurial activity. Three main types are identified (‘Volunteer Activists’, ‘Rationalising Professionals’ and ‘High Aspirers’) which demonstrate the diversity of (50+) social entrepreneurs beyond their demographic characteristics, i.e. including with respect to their expectations, the nature of their contributions, challenges and related support needs. Second, it demonstrates the importance of life stages for better understanding the link between (social) entrepreneurial intentions and actual behaviour, and presents a model of the role of motivations in the SE process which is integrated with a life course perspective. Third, it provides a more holistic insight into the nature of risk and its various dimensions, including financial (the main focus of the ‘mainstream’ literature) as well as reputational or other personal (e.g. physical) risks. It also demonstrates that individuals’ risk taking propensity often changes over time and in response to changing circumstances in form of life stages.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 12474
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2013 11:38
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 00:11

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.