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Explaining university students’ career path intentions from their current entrepreneurial exposure

Jerzy Cieślik (Center for Entrepreneurship, Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland)
André van Stel (Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland) (Center for Entrepreneurship, Kozminski University, Warsaw, Poland)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to predict future career paths of university students, distinguishing between paid employment, running one’s own independent business and running a family business. The main predictor is the students’ current mode of entrepreneurial exposure, both in terms of the students running their own business, and in terms of their parents running their own business.


The study is based on a comprehensive survey held in May 2013 among 1,490 business and law students of Kozminski University in Warsaw, Poland. To predict future career expectations in ten years’ time, multinomial logit regressions were employed.


The authors find that, among students with a family business background, those students who are actively involved in their parents’ business are significantly more likely to pursue joining the family firm, rather than starting their own business.

Practical implications

In order to stimulate business succession, universities with a large proportion of students with family business background may consider launching dedicated programs promoting the interest of students in the businesses run by their parents.


The authors investigate to what extent active participation of university students in their parents’ business is associated with a higher probability to pursue a career in family business. The research has important implications in light of the increasing difficulty in Europe to find successors for family businesses.



Nardo de Vries provided excellent research assistance to the authors. The authors are also grateful to conference participants at the DARE Research Seminar (Utrecht, November 2015) and the EURAM Conference (Paris, June 2016), as well as to two anonymous referees for providing the authors with helpful comments on earlier drafts of the paper.


Cieślik, J. and van Stel, A. (2017), "Explaining university students’ career path intentions from their current entrepreneurial exposure", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 313-332.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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