The role of developmental relationships in the transition to entrepreneurship

Siri Terjesen (Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)
Sherry E. Sullivan (College of Business Administration, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 20 September 2011



The purpose of this study is to examine the under‐researched subject of the role of mentoring relationships within and outside of organizational boundaries as individuals make the career transition from being a corporate employee to becoming an entrepreneur.


Using structured interviews, the authors collected data from 24 men and women in the financial services industry in the UK about their experiences in making the transition from a corporate organization to a new venture work context. All interviews were transcribed and systematic Nvivo coding was used.


Developmental relationships with structural, relational, and cognitive embeddedness were most likely to transfer from the individual's corporate workplace to their new venture. Support for both the recent literature on multiple mentors and for gender differences in the patterns of these mentoring relationships was also found.


This is the first published study to examine whether mentor relationships from previous corporate employment transfer to the protégé's new entrepreneurial venture and whether other types of relationships (e.g. coworkers, clients) are transformed into mentor‐protégé relationships after the career transition to entrepreneurship. It is also among the few studies to examine mentoring of entrepreneurs and gender differences in mentoring within the entrepreneurial work context.



Terjesen, S. and Sullivan, S. (2011), "The role of developmental relationships in the transition to entrepreneurship", Career Development International, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 482-506.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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