Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Management & Enterprise

First Advisor

Dr Breda Kenny

Second Advisor

Dr Aisling Conway-Lenihan

Third Advisor

Dr Olive Lennon

Abstract

Globally, while the population is ageing, only 3% of older (≥65 years) adults are engaged in entrepreneurship. The Healthy Ageing agenda is responding to the population trends by increasing its focus on elements of active or productive ageing (incorporating older working) with quality of life as a primary outcome. Alignment and exploitation of the synergies between healthy ageing and older entrepreneurial engagement are lacking. Entrepreneurship education is broadening its focus and targeting inclusivity, albeit with as yet little focus on the older population. Older entrepreneurship, while tentatively linked with increased quality of life, has yet to receive direct attention in the healthy ageing literature, perhaps in part due to the lack of empirical evidence supporting healthy ageing outcomes directly associated with older entrepreneurial skills training or entrepreneurial endeavours. Limited data supports the engagement of people at or beyond retirement age in entrepreneurship and there is little understanding about this cohort’s needs and drivers for entrepreneurial skills training. This “Smart Ageing and Renewal through Entrepreneurial Skills Training” developed research programme provides ground-breaking exploratory work to address current knowledge gaps in entrepreneurial education for adults over 65 years. This study asks what concepts and individual facets have the potential to inform older healthy ageing aligned entrepreneurship as well as aligned bespoke older entrepreneurial skills training? A cross-disciplinary, conceptual alignment between the healthy ageing and older entrepreneurship domains was conducted, with twenty healthy ageing concepts identified as common to both literatures. The study then explores the identified aligned concepts in practice. Following an action research framework, this study first sought key stakeholder feedback on the suitability of existing processbased entrepreneurial education materials for older individuals. Suitable aligned measurement constructs for entrepreneurial skills training evaluation in the cohort were then identified and suitable measures for facets of older entrepreneurship were validated in an over 65s population. Aligned measures included: EuroQoL 5D-5L quality-of-life measure, CASP12 and ICECAP-O wellbeing measures, Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and BRS6 resilience measure, total entrepreneurial competences, entrepreneurial activity level and entrepreneurial self-efficacy. The research programme next implemented practical testing of these aligned measures. This was achieved through sampling in the general older population (n=102) to establish existing cross-domain relationships between healthy ageing and older entrepreneurship measures and by a collaborative, inclusive feasibility pilot study of stakeholder-approved entrepreneurial skills training provision in a community setting. Promising relationships were identified between healthy ageing outcomes of quality of life, wellbeing and resilience and those of entrepreneurial competences and self-efficacy, with total entrepreneurial competence explaining 21% of the variance in the CASP12 wellbeing measure, (R2 change 0.21, Fchange (5,.90)= 8.03, p<0.001). These results indicate potential for entrepreneurial skills training interventions that develop entrepreneurial competence and self-efficacy to positively impact outcomes of healthy ageing and entrepreneurial mindset in an older population. The mixed methods feasibility study highlighted that approved training materials were both suitable for and acceptable to individuals over 65 years and delivery of programme in an older population was associated with positive changes in entrepreneurial competences, activity level and self-efficacy measures, in tandem with a large effect statistically significant (8%) improvement in self-reported health (EuroQol Varbox, p = 0.012), and promising trends for improved wellbeing, aspects of cognition and resilience. Qualitative results pointed to increased confidence, identity development and mindset changes. However, recruitment rates to this pilot study were suboptimal, suggesting further work is required to address awareness-raising and attractiveness of older entrepreneurial education, especially where healthy ageing and societal contribution are target outcomes and not enterprise alone.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Access Level

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

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