Risk taking propensities of new business owners: The importance of age

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Curtin University of Technology


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Management




Walker, E. A., Geddes, D. A., & Webster, B. (2007). Risk taking propensities of new business owners: The importance of age. Proceedings of The Inaugural International Women and Leadership Conference 2006. (pp. 335). Perth. Curtin University of Technology.


A current social issue is the ageing of the population and there is much emphasis on keeping people in mainstream employment. In reality however the employment options for older workers decrease over time, and even with the current skills shortage, there are limited options for older workers and for women in particular. One employment option for older workers is to become self employed and start a business. Although older business owners are known to be more successful than their younger counterparts, what is not known is whether any gender differences exist when it comes to risk aversion. This paper reports the research findings of a quantitative study on the risk taking propensities of women business owners and how age affects such activities. The paper also reports on the different motivations for business start-up. The research found that there were some gender differences with women being more emotionally risk averse than their male counterparts. In regard to age, younger people, irrespective of gender were more emotionally and financially risk averse compared to older people. There were also differences between gender and age cohorts in regard to initial business start-up motivation. This leads to the conclusion that whereas self employment might be a viable alternative to mainstream employment for women in general, it may not be the best alternative for all younger women, given that many of them still have to balance work and family.

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