In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Small Business Economics.
Cited as: Brieger, S. A., A. Bäro, G. Criaco and S. A. Terjesen (2020). “Entrepreneurs’ age, institutions, and social value creation goals: A multi-country study.” Small Business Economics.


This study explores the relationship between an entrepreneur’s age and his/her social value creation goals. Building on the lifespan developmental psychology literature and institutional theory, we hypothesize a U-shaped relationship between entrepreneurs’ age and their choice to create social value through their ventures, such that younger and older entrepreneurs create more social value with their businesses while middle age entrepreneurs are relatively more economically and less socially oriented with their ventures. We further hypothesize that the quality of a country’s formal institutions in terms of economic, social, and political freedom steepen the U-shaped relationship between entrepreneurs’ age and their choice to pursue social value creation as supportive institutional environments allow entrepreneurs to follow their age-based preferences. We confirm our predictions using multilevel mixed-effects linear regressions on a sample of over 15,000 entrepreneurs (aged between 18 and 64 years) in 45 countries from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data. The findings are robust to several alternative specifications. Based on our findings, we discuss implications for theory and practice, and we propose future research directions.

Recommendations from this resource

Future Research

1. Longitudinal studies would be preferable to provide evidence on the effect of entrepreneurs’ age changes on social value creation across time, as this article’s cross-sectional design does not fully allow to determine conclusively whether the U-shaped relationship between entrepreneurs’ age and social value creation are due to true aging effects, cohort effects, or period effects.

2. This study captures entrepreneurs’ perceived value creation rather than actual value creation. Future research could explore whether more objective measures of such variable would yield to similar results.

3. Future research should investigate if and how additional informal institutions such as a country’s trust level or social identity influence the relationship between age and social value creation.

4. It would also be interesting to examine age patterns in the relationships between gender, culture, and value creation goals.

5. Future research could focus on the role of country- and individual-level incomes and wealth for the relationship between age and social value creation to bring more clarity to this matter.