Entrepreneurs’ Exit and Paths to Retirement: Theoretical and Empirical Considerations

  • Monika E. von BonsdorffEmail author
  • Jukka Lahtonen
  • Jan von Bonsdorff
  • Elina Varamäki


The number of ageing entrepreneurs in micro- and small-sized companies is rapidly increasing in Finland and other European Union countries. Over half a million jobs, in over one hundred thousand companies within the EU, are lost annually due to unsuccessful, predominantly retirement-related transfers of businesses. This challenge coincides with EU Grand Challenges and has been highlighted in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan (European Commission 2013). It has been estimated that in Finland, some 8000 jobs are lost yearly due to the ageing of entrepreneurs. Therefore, entrepreneur ageing has implications not only for the ageing individual but also for the company and the society at large. As entrepreneurs age it becomes more essential for them to start planning when and how they transition into retirement. While they may experience several exits and subsequent re-entries into working life via buying or starting new companies, exiting ones entrepreneurial career due to old age retirement differs from exits that occur earlier during the career. In this chapter, we provide a short overview of the entrepreneur retirement and exit literature from an age perspective. Furthermore, we present a theoretical conceptualization which combines entrepreneur retirement process with exit theories. This will enable scholars to better understand the retirement process, including decision-making, transitioning, and adjustment to retirement. We also provide empirical evidence using data collected among Finnish entrepreneurs in 2012 and 2015, where we outline the types of exits and assess several factors, including age, in association with exit intentions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika E. von Bonsdorff
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jukka Lahtonen
    • 2
  • Jan von Bonsdorff
    • 3
  • Elina Varamäki
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Vaasa, Kokkola University Consortium ChydeniusKokkolaFinland
  2. 2.University of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  3. 3.Finnish Company Acquisitions LtdHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, University of VaasaSeinäjokiFinland

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