Graduate career‐making and business start‐up: a literature review

Ghulam Nabi (Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)
Rick Holden (Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)
Andreas Walmsley (Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of this article is to provide a selective review of literature on the career‐related decision‐making processes in terms of the transition from student to business start‐up, and the nature and influence of support and guidance.


Primarily, a critical review of a range of recently published literature (1995‐2005) addressing the theoretical and practical aspects of the journey from student to start‐up. The literature is divided into sections: the graduate labour market: a state of flux; Conceptual and definitional issues; Career choice and decision‐making; and Start‐up training and support.


The paper finds that despite an increasing body of theoretical and empirical literature on career choice in general and on the career choice to start‐up a business in the form of intention models, there remains a lack of in‐depth research on the stories, circumstances, contexts and complexities of graduates on their journey from student to business start‐up. A transition from entrepreneurial intentions to actual start‐up is often assumed but under‐researched in terms of career development and decision making processes. The nexus between training, support, intent and actual career choice to start‐up a business remains under‐investigated.

Research limitations/implications

Given that careers are made in a changing and complex context, simple relationships should not be expected. Hence, rather than focusing solely on certain aspects of the start‐up process, research is needed that takes a more holistic approach.

Practical implications

The study highlights the need for research that does justice to the complexities of the decisions made in the process from student to start‐up and by implication public policy and practice in relation to formal intervention within this aspect of the graduate labour market.


The paper lays the basis for a more nuanced understanding of the journey from student to start‐up of value to both researchers and policy makers.



Nabi, G., Holden, R. and Walmsley, A. (2006), "Graduate career‐making and business start‐up: a literature review", Education + Training, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 373-385.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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