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Human capital and entrepreneurial success : a meta-analytical review

Unger, J. and Rauch, A. and Frese, M. and Rosenbusch, Nina (2011) Human capital and entrepreneurial success : a meta-analytical review. Journal of Business Venturing, 26 (3). pp. 341-358. ISSN 0883-9026

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Abstract

The study meta-analytically integrates results from three decades of human capital research in entrepreneurship. Based on 70 independent samples (N = 24,733), we found a significant but small relationship between human capital and success (r(c) = .098). We examined theoretically derived moderators of this relationship referring to conceptualizations of human capital, to context, and to measurement of success. The relationship was higher for outcomes of human capital investments (knowledge/skills) than for human capital investments (education/experience), for human capital with high task-relatedness compared to low task-relatedness, for young businesses compared to old businesses, and for the dependent variable size compared to growth or profitability. Findings are relevant for practitioners (lenders, policy makers, educators) and for future research. Our findings show that future research should pursue moderator approaches to study the effects of human capital on success. Further, human capital is most important if it is task-related and if it consists of outcomes of human capital investments rather than human capital investments; this suggests that research should overcome a static view of human capital and should rather investigate the processes of learning, knowledge acquisition, and the transfer of knowledge to entrepreneurial tasks.