The Imprint of Labor Markets on Entrepreneurial Performance

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Using the 1979–2010 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, our study tracks the earnings of individual entrepreneurs from the beginning of their entrepreneurial careers, examining the effects of labor markets on their earnings trajectory. Results show that apart from self-selection, labor markets impose a penalty on the initial earnings of entrepreneurs who start a business in adverse economic conditions, a disadvantage that persist for up to a decade. We also identify two factors expected to alleviate the imprinting effect of labor markets: migration outside the imprinting environment and serial entrepreneurship.





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Kwon, S-W, and M Ruef (2017). The Imprint of Labor Markets on Entrepreneurial Performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 32(6). pp. 611–626. 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2017.08.002 Retrieved from

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Martin Ruef

Jack and Pamela Egan Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship

My research considers the social context of entrepreneurship from both a contemporary and historical perspective. I draw on large-scale surveys of entrepreneurs in the United States to explore processes of team formation, innovation, exchange, and boundary maintenance in nascent business startups. My historical analyses address entrepreneurial activity and constraint during periods of profound institutional change. This work has considered a diverse range of sectors, including the organizational transformation of Southern agriculture and industry after the Civil War, African American entrepreneurship under Jim Crow, the transition of the U.S. healthcare system from professional monopoly to managed care, and the character of entrepreneurship during early mercantile and industrial capitalism.

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