Senior Women Managers' Transition to Entrepreneurship: Leveraging Embedded Career Capital

Posted: 9 Nov 2009

See all articles by Siri A. Terjesen

Siri A. Terjesen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH); American University

Date Written: 2005


Purpose – This paper aims to explore the phenomenon of senior women managers leaving corporate organisations to start their own companies. Women's advancement to senior management roles is facilitated by the acquisition of human capital and social capital. Female ex-corporate managers leverage personal accumulations of knowledge, skills, relationships and networks when starting and growing new ventures. A conceptual framework of "embedded career capital" accrued during past experiences and transferable to the individuals' new entrepreneurial ventures is put forward. Design/methodology/approach – Structured, in-depth interviews with ten female entrepreneurs who recently left senior management positions in large UK corporations to start their own ventures support a spectrum from embedded career capital which is transferable and value-creating to embodied career capital consisting of immobile, non-rent-generating accumulations. Findings – Senior women managers leverage "embedded career capital," human capital and social capital accumulated from past experiences, when founding and growing their own businesses. Embedded career capital is mobile and value-generating to the women's new start-ups. In contrast, embodied capital is not capable of generating rents outside the arena in which it was developed and not transferable to the new venture. Research limitations/implications – This exploratory study is based on ten interviews, and reveals practical implications for both senior women managers eager to advance their careers as entrepreneurs and companies keen to retain these women. Originality/value – The results provide support for the new concept of embedded career capital. This paper is one of the first to examine how women account for the use of human capital and social capital in the transition from corporate management to own ventures.(Publication abstract)

Keywords: Experimental/primary research, Female entrepreneurs, Experience, Startups, Career changes, Human capital, Social capital, Job satisfaction, Skills, Career development, Female executives, Managers

Suggested Citation

Terjesen, Siri A., Senior Women Managers' Transition to Entrepreneurship: Leveraging Embedded Career Capital (2005). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN:

Siri A. Terjesen (Contact Author)

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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