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Journal of Management
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Sticking It Out : Individual Attributes and Persistence in Self-Employment Pankaj C. Patel and Sherry M. B. Thatcher
Journal of Management published online 15 May 2012
DOI: 10.1177/0149206312446643
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Journal of Management
Vol. XX No. X, Month XXXX xx-xx
DOI: 10.1177/0149206312446643
© The Author(s) 2012
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Sticking It Out: Individual Attributes and
Persistence in Self-Employment
Pankaj C. Patel
Ball State University

Sherry M. B. Thatcher
University of Louisville

There is evidence that individual attributes play an important role in self-employment entrance decisions. Drawing on the personality, psychological well-being, and goal attainment literature, the authors ask, What individual attributes are associated with persistence in self-employment? First, they theoretically develop the concept of self-employment persistence and then empirically assess the effects of individual attributes on self-employment persistence, while including the baseline effects of these individual attributes on self-employment entrance. They use a semiparametric, reduced-form, multiple-state transition model and control for demographic and social determinants. Using employment history data of a cohort of 2,839 individuals from 1957 to 2004, the authors find that openness to experience, autonomy, and tenacious goal pursuit increase persistence in self-employment, whereas neuroticism reduces persistence in selfemployment. They discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the findings. Keywords:

self-employment; Big Five personality traits; psychological well-being; individual attributes; goal pursuit

Acknowledgments: This research uses data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since 1991, the WLS has been supported principally by the National Institute on Aging (AG9775, AG-21079, and AG-033285), with additional support from the Vilas Estate Trust, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A public use file of data from the WLS is available from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, University of WisconsinMadison, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706, and at http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/wlsresearch/data/. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors.

Corresponding author: Sherry M. B. Thatcher, Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, College of Business, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA E-mail: smthat01@louisville.edu

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Journal of Management / Month XXXX

Introduction
Over the past several decades, research has shown that self-employment is central to economic growth and job creation (Carlsson, Acs, Audretsch, & Braunerhjelm, 2009). A selfemployed individual derives residual income through active involvement in a going concern such as a trade or a business (Reid, 1962). Relatedly, entrepreneurs engage in “the discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of future goods and services . . . [by] creation or identification of new ends and means previously...
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