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Adolescent entrepreneurial learning ecosystem and a tech entrepreneurial career—inspiration from theblack swan stories.

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Despite the importance of technology entrepreneurship, we know little about what factors lead to a tech entrepreneurial career. Based on the biographies of “black swan” tech entrepreneurs, this paper first inductively identifies the adolescent tech entrepreneurial learning ecosystem that is shared by them. We then empirically test the impact of the adolescent tech entrepreneurial learning ecosystem on individuals’ tech entrepreneurial career by using a large longitudinal dataset tracing 3116 individuals over 20 years from adolescence through adulthood. We find that the adolescent tech entrepreneurial learning ecosystem impacts individuals’ tech entrepreneurial intentions, commitments, and ultimately careers. This study ends with detailed policy implications.

Plain English Summary

This paper identifies the adolescent tech entrepreneurial learning ecosystem and finds that it has a significant impact on individuals’ tech entrepreneurial career. Many are fascinated by tech entrepreneurs who have not only led breakthrough innovations but also greatly influenced human life. Relying on both biographic data of “black swan” tech entrepreneurs and a large longitudinal dataset following individuals for over 20 years, this study shows that many key elements including family background and school education are strong predictors of individuals’ tech entrepreneurial career. Put differently, those whose families cannot afford tech learning resources would suffer from losing at the starting line. This study, therefore, suggests that more policy initiatives should be developed to help underprivileged students to enhance technology-related afterschool activities where they can develop their interests in tech projects.


According to Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY), “some of the original participants had died, left the country, or were unable to participate due to serious health problems.” Therefore, there is no evidence that the reduced number of respondents from the original survey back in 1987 created attrition bias for this particular study.


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