For older workers, self-employment is an important alternative to waged employment. Drawing on social learning theory and social cognitive career theory we examine how attitudes toward one’s own aging, future time perspective (captured by perceived time left to live) and perceived support from referent individuals predict self-efficacy for entrepreneurship and outcome expectations, influencing self-employment interest. Findings from a sample of professional association members (n = 174, mean age 52.5 years), revealed that an open-ended time perspective relates positively to entrepreneurial self-efficacy, while social support relates positively to outcome expectations. Consistent with social cognitive career theory, entrepreneurial self-efficacy mediated the relationship between future time perspective and interest in self-employment, and outcome expectations mediated the relationship between social support and interest in self-employment. This study extends current career and entrepreneurship theory in several ways. First, the inclusion of age-related psychosocial and sociocultural factors in the study model shed light on the intersection between older age, the contextual environment and development of self-employment interest. Second, the findings support earlier arguments that older entrepreneurship is a social process whereby the social context in which people work and live influences their interest in entrepreneurship, and that entrepreneurial behavior among older people needs to be supported to occur. Finally, the findings suggest the utility of social cognitive career theory in informing the development of self-employment interest in the late career stage. We discuss implications for the career and entrepreneurship literatures as well as practitioners involved in late-career counseling or seeking to promote entrepreneurship for older people.
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- social cognitive career theory
- social support
- future time perspective
- older workers