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Millennial entrepreneur

Prep Time:

30 Minutes

Cook Time:

Liu, J., Zhu, Y., Serapio, M. G., & Çavuşgil, S. T. (2019). The new generation of millennial entrepreneurs: a review and call for research. International Business Review, 28(5), 101581. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibusrev.2019.05.001

Bagheri, A., & Zhu, Y. (2023). Millennial entrepreneurial persistence under harsh contextual environments in Iran. Journal of General Management, 48(2), 171-183. https://doi.org/10.1177/

Zhang, L., Zhou, X., & Shirshitskaia, E. (2021). Millennials’ entrepreneurial values, entrepreneurial symbiosis network and new ventures growth: evidence from china. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.713280

Hindrawati, G., Dhewanto, W., & Dellyana, D. (2022). Does innovative millennial entrepreneurship have a role in fostering cyber learning on business performance? a perspective of entrepreneurial agility. The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 24(4), 219-232. https://doi.org/10.1177/14657503211066011

Serves:

millennial

Level:

sustainability, lifestyle

About the Recipe

A recent literature review published in the International Business Review reveals a startling gap in our understanding of millennial entrepreneurs. The authors, Jing Liu, Yipeng Zhu, Manuel G. Serapio and one more researcher, combed through the last few years of leading entrepreneurship journals, expecting to find plenty of research on this new generation of business leaders. Instead, they discovered that scholars have fallen woefully behind in studying millennial entrepreneurs, with only one study out of dozens even including them as research subjects.

Ingredients

  • The millennial generation has shown lower levels of entrepreneurial activity compared to previous generations like Generation X and Baby Boomers. According to data from 2014, only 2% of millennials were self-employed, in contrast to 7.6% of Gen X and 8.3% of Baby Boomers. Even when comparing at age 30, millennials had a lower self-employment rate of 4% versus 5.4% for Gen X and 6.7% for Boomers.

    Several factors may contribute to this trend, including millennials' limited financial independence and work experience at their young ages, as well as delaying careers to pursue higher education. However, some argue millennials could end up becoming the most entrepreneurial generation in history due to their comfort with technology as "digital natives." Being the first generation fully at home in the digital world may give them an advantage in today's tech-driven business landscape.

    In summary, while data shows millennials starting fewer businesses so far, their unique generational attributes suggest they have the potential to become highly entrepreneurial in the coming years as they mature. More research is needed to understand the entrepreneurial motivations, challenges and opportunities specific to the millennial cohort.

  • Digital native advantage: As the first generation to grow up with the internet, millennials' inherent digital fluency may spur them to uniquely leverage technology in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Studies should examine how this shapes the types of businesses they launch and their strategies for growth and innovation.

  • Socially conscious capitalism: Millennials are known for integrating social concerns into consumption and career choices. Research should probe whether this ethos pervades their entrepreneurial activities, leading to more ventures aimed at societal impact and new models for balancing purpose and profit.

    3. Collaborative and diverse networks: Millennials' ease with digital communication and inclusive values may lead them to build ventures with more collaborative cultures and diverse teams. Mapping the composition of their professional networks and studying how they leverage them could yield insights.

    4. Resilient and risk tolerant: Coming of age amid economic turbulence, millennials have been forged by navigating uncertainty. Researchers should explore if this instills a unique resilience and comfort with risk-taking that emboldens their entrepreneurship.

    5. Flexible and fluid: As a generation that prizes mobility and flexibility, millennial entrepreneurs may be more prone to pivot, evolve business models, and pursue non-linear paths to growth. Tracing their venture trajectories over time could illuminate adaptive patterns.

    6. Globalizing from birth: Millennials' global connectivity from a young age may endow them with wider international awareness and networks to tap in building born-global ventures. Studies comparing millennial entrepreneurs cross-nationally could reveal if this manifests in more expansive global ambitions and acumen.

    7. Disruptive and daring: Raised to believe they can change the world, millennials may be more inclined to pursue audacious entrepreneurial visions that upend industries. Investigating the scale of problems they tackle and their penchant for disruptive versus incremental innovation could be illuminating.

    Much remains to be discovered about what differentiates millennial entrepreneurs and the imprints they will leave. But the charge is clear - entrepreneurship research must make this rising generation a priority to paint a complete picture. Integrating these lines of inquiry into future studies will lead us to valuable insights on the millennial entrepreneurs redefining 21st century business.

Preparation

The New Generation of Millennial Entrepreneurs: Are We Falling Behind in Understanding Them?


A recent literature review published in the International Business Review reveals a startling gap in our understanding of millennial entrepreneurs. The authors, Jing Liu, Yipeng Zhu, Manuel G. Serapio and one more researcher, combed through the last few years of leading entrepreneurship journals, expecting to find plenty of research on this new generation of business leaders. Instead, they discovered that scholars have fallen woefully behind in studying millennial entrepreneurs, with only one study out of dozens even including them as research subjects.

This is a major oversight considering the increasing prominence and impact of millennial entrepreneurs worldwide. Well-known examples like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, and Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix demonstrate how this tech-savvy, socially conscious generation is transforming industries through innovative business models. With millennials poised to become the most entrepreneurial generation in history, it's critical that we gain deeper insights into what makes them tick as business leaders.


The review exposes other gaps as well. Most entrepreneurship research still focuses on subjects from earlier generations, relies on incomplete data about sample demographics, and is concentrated in Western developed economies. To keep up with the changing global business landscape, the authors argue we urgently need more research on millennial entrepreneurs in emerging markets, as well as cross-country comparisons.


Some key questions they propose: What motivates millennials to pursue entrepreneurship vs. traditional careers? How does their aptitude with technology shape the types of businesses they start? Are they more likely to launch social enterprises aimed at reducing inequality or protecting the environment? How do millennial entrepreneurs in different countries and cultures vary in their approaches?

With millennials embarking on their prime productive years, their impact as entrepreneurs will only grow. Scholars must make studying this generation a top priority, before their unique characteristics and early experiences are lost to time.


Their analysis of top entrepreneurship journals shows that this pivotal generation of business leaders remains largely unstudied, with existing research still fixated on entrepreneurs from earlier eras. This gap in understanding is alarming given millennials' rising impact on the global business landscape.

The review surfaces several valuable insights that should guide future research priorities:

  1. Millennials are poised to be the most entrepreneurial generation yet, necessitating focused study of their unique traits, motivations and approaches as business founders. Key questions include how their life experiences, social values and digital savvy shape their entrepreneurial goals and strategies.

  2. Researchers must look beyond Western contexts to understand millennial entrepreneurs globally. Cross-cultural comparisons and studies in emerging economies will be crucial, as these environments present distinct challenges and opportunities that may forge different types of millennial founders.

  3. Exploring millennials' relationship with technology is paramount, as it likely influences the problems they aim to solve and the means by which they do so. Are they more prone to launch digital ventures? Do they leverage tech in novel ways to drive business model innovation?

  4. The social consciousness often attributed to millennials raises questions about their priorities as entrepreneurs. Are they more driven to address societal issues like inequality and sustainability through business? How do they balance purpose with profit?

  5. Methodologically, studying millennial subjects may demand updated approaches to data collection suited to their digital lifestyles. The one study that captured millennials used text message surveys, hinting at engaging them on their native technological turf.

To fill knowledge gaps, entrepreneurship scholars must intentionally study subjects born in the 1980s and 90s and systematically analyze generational differences where they emerge. Descriptive foundational research is needed to map the millennial entrepreneur landscape, followed by explanatory studies to unearth what distinctively drives them. Tracking millennial founders longitudinally as they mature will also yield valuable developmental insights.

The road ahead is clear: our conceptual frameworks must expand to incorporate the millennial generation that will increasingly define 21st century entrepreneurship worldwide. Only by making millennial entrepreneurs a central focus now can research stay relevant in a rapidly evolving business world. The time to act is now, before the chance to understand this generation at a pivotal stage slips away. Future scholarship on entrepreneurs cannot afford to overlook the millennial phenomenon.



Our understanding of global business in the coming decades depends on diving deep into the minds of millennial entrepreneurs today. It's time for research to catch up with the changing face of entrepreneurship, or risk falling permanently behind.

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