Self-exploitation or successful entrepreneurship? The effects of personal capital on variable outcomes from self-employment

Andrew Michael Atherton (Lead / Corresponding author), Dongxu Wu, Zhongmin Wu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    298 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to understand whether the personal capital of the entrepreneur positively or negatively affects outcomes from self-employment.

    Design/methodology/approach: Data from the UK’s longitudinal household surveys (BHPS, UKLHS) between 1991 and 2014 were analysed. Relationships between age, education, health and family status, income earned and hours worked were tested.FindingsEntrepreneurs with higher levels of personal capital enjoyed higher incomes. However, those with lower levels of personal capital were more likely to have negative returns from self-employment, and so experience it as “self-exploitation”.

    Research limitations/implications: A basis for understanding different outcomes from self-employment was developed and tested.
    Practical implications: Specific characteristics of continuing and new entrepreneurs were identified that are positively associated with beneficial outcomes from self-employment.

    Originality/value: Positive and negative outcomes from self-employment are explained. The notion of personal capital is developed as an explanatory framework for variable outcomes from self-employment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)866-885
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
    Issue number6
    Early online date21 May 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2018


    • Self-employment
    • Entrepreneur
    • Financial outcomes
    • Non-financial outcomes
    • Personal capital


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