The entrepreneur's experiential diversity and entrepreneurial performance

Anne Spanjer, Arjen van Witteloostuijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
251 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines the relationship between the entrepreneur’s experiential diversity and entrepreneurial performance. First, we argue that entrepreneurial and industry experiences are positively associated with performance. Second, by combining Lazear’s jacks-of-all-trades theory with the cognition and learning literatures, an inverted U-shaped experience diversity-performance relationship is predicted. The hypotheses are tested using data from the US National Labor Survey Youth 1979 and O*NET. We find that industry experience is positively associated with performance, but entrepreneurial experience is negatively related. Moreover, experience diversity measured in terms of skills is found to be positively associated with performance up to a certain threshold. After this threshold, an increase in an entrepreneur’s experiential diversity lowers performance. Entrepreneurs with 23 different skills have the highest performance. Furthermore, when depreciating for experience, experience diversity measured in terms of both skills and knowledge is found to be positively related to performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-161
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number1
Early online dateJan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • entrepeneurship
  • self-employed
  • experience diversity
  • jack-of-all-trades
  • experience depreciation


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