Determinants of novice, portfolio, and serial entrepreneurship: an occupational choice approach

  • Emanuela Carbonara
  • Hien Thu Tran
  • Enrico SantarelliEmail author


In this paper, we first develop an original theory in which, based on their individual skills and the quality of their business, entrepreneurs can keep their original business (and thus remain novice entrepreneurs), start and keep a new business in the same or another sector along their current business (therefore becoming portfolio entrepreneurs), transfer or shut their original business down to either start a new one (turning themselves into serial entrepreneurs), or enter the labor market as wage workers. We then use the insights from our theory to develop three main hypotheses that are finally tested for a 10-year panel dataset (2001 to 2010) of more than 4000 Vietnamese manufacturing firms. We estimate an occupational choice model and a survival model and find that (i) a greater endowment of human capital is associated with a higher likelihood of a business owner to become a serial or a portfolio entrepreneur; (ii) a higher quality of the new business is associated to a higher likelihood that it is run by any type of habitual entrepreneur. Particularly, high entrepreneurial skills together with a high-quality business positively influence the likelihood of an individual to be serial or portfolio entrepreneur; (iii) ceteris paribus, firms run by serial or portfolio entrepreneurs tend to stay in business longer, although high-quality ones run by novice entrepreneurs endowed with high entrepreneurial skills are those with the lowest probability to leave the market.


Portfolio entrepreneurship Serial entrepreneurship Occupational choice Industrial policy 

JEL codes

F02 L26 L53 



Previous versions of this paper have been presented at the 8th Annual Conference for the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Toronto, Ryerson University) and at seminars held at University of Saarland, University of Luxembourg, University of Trento, and Bucerius Law School (Hamburg). We thank seminar participants and, in particular, Bettina Müller for helpful suggestions.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Business LawUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Telfer School of ManagementUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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