The 'Entrepreneurial Boss' Effect on Employees' Future Entrepreneurship Choices: A Role Model Story?

55 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2016

See all articles by Vera Rocha

Vera Rocha

Copenhagen Business School

Mirjam van Praag

University of Amsterdam - Department of Economics; Copenhagen Business School; Tinbergen Institute; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


Both organizational and sociological approaches in entrepreneurship research highlight the importance of social context in shaping individual preferences for entrepreneurship. An influential contextual factor that has not been studied in entrepreneurship research is one's boss at work. Do entrepreneurial bosses contribute to their employees' decisions to become entrepreneurs themselves? Using Danish register data of newly founded firms and their entrepreneurs and employees between 2003 and 2012, and employing methods that allow causal inferences, we show that entrepreneurial bosses indeed affect their employees' future entrepreneurship choices, especially if both boss and employee are female. We investigate two alternative underlying mechanisms that may shape the (female) boss' influence on (female) workers' entrepreneurship decisions. Our results consistently suggest that entrepreneurial bosses may act as role models for the entrepreneurship activities of their employees, especially between pairs of female bosses and female employees. We do not find any evidence on female bosses acting as "queen bees" at the workplace. Female entrepreneurial bosses may, thus, act as a lever to reducing the gender gaps in entrepreneurship rates.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, role models, gender gaps, female leadership

JEL Classification: L26, J24, J16

Suggested Citation

Rocha, Vera and van Praag, Mirjam and van Praag, Mirjam, The 'Entrepreneurial Boss' Effect on Employees' Future Entrepreneurship Choices: A Role Model Story?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10104, Available at SSRN: or

Vera Rocha (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Mirjam Van Praag

University of Amsterdam - Department of Economics ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
+31 20 525 4096 (Phone)
+31 20 525 4182 (Fax)

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Kilevej 14A
Frederiksberg, 2000

Tinbergen Institute

Gustav Mahlerlaan

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072

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