Malcolm Gladwell’s bestselling book, Outliers, asserts that chronological age can significantly influence entrepreneurs.
Gladwell explains that when the microprocessor was introduced in the 1970s, only computer engineers a few years out of college were familiar with these new devices. Thus, anyone born before 1953 could not work effectively with microprocessors. Even though this particular example references a small number of entrepreneurs, Gladwell argues that it illustrates a correlation between age and entrepreneurial activity.
A recent study explored this argument in more detail. The paper examines the relationship between entrepreneurship and age as well as three additional factors: education, experience, and creativity. It analyzes which of these characteristics has the biggest impact on innovative entrepreneurs.
According to the study, Gladwell wasn’t completely wrong. There is a relationship between age and different types of entrepreneurship. For example, analysis of MIT alumni who were tech entrepreneurs showed that the median age of first-time U.S. entrepreneurs declined from age 40 in the 1950s to 28 in the 1990s. Interestingly, the authors also found that “the age distribution of paradigm-shifting entrepreneurs in the micro/personal computer industry was no different from the age distribution in entrepreneurs in general.”
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Contributed by Haley Goodman.