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

Ghulam Nabi, Rick Holden, Andreas Walmsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – 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. Design/methodology/approach – 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.
Findings – 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.
Originality/value – 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-385
Number of pages13
JournalEducation + Training
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • graduates
  • career development
  • self employed workers
  • entrepreneurship
  • United Kingdom


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