Characterizing hybrid entrepreneurship across generations: The Dutch case

By Guest Author | entrepreneurship | April 12, 2021

By Amelia Román and Jesse Blits                           

Entrepreneurial activity is often defined as a dichotomous choice between employment and self-employment (Folta et al., 2010). This view of entrepreneurship contrasts sharply with recent evidence that individuals engage in entrepreneurial activities while concurrently holding wage work (Schultz et al., 2016; Thorgren et al. 2014; Asante, 2018; Liebrechts and Stam, 2016). Although exact numbers are challenging to compile, recent research on part-time entrepreneurs demonstrates increasing numbers (Landgraf, 2015; Statistics Netherlands, 2019). Folta et al. (2010) define those individuals who engage in self-employment while holding wage work as hybrid entrepreneurs. Hybrid entrepreneurship often has a bridge or transition function. This implies that the state of hybridity is temporary and used as a stepping stone to entrepreneurship.

We postulate that hybrid entrepreneurship is complex and that hybrids are a diverse group, and require demarcation. We explore the push and pull factors that trigger decisions to combine employment with self-employment and investigate the temporal nature of hybridity. We employ generation theory to create and test a model of hybrid entrepreneurship. The reason behind this is that each generation enters the labour market under different conditions than those of previous generations. These relate to social, cultural, institutional, and economic conditions that, as we surmise, will be of direct influence on the drivers and the conditional state of hybridity. We explore the push and pull factors that trigger decisions to combine employment with self-employment. A key aspect is the temporal nature of hybridity, as we ask whether the hybrid entrepreneur intends to remain a hybrid or that this state is temporary as they build their business or search for better employment opportunities. This study asks: How can hybrid entrepreneurs be characterized?


In a preliminary study, we use primary, qualitative research to create a model. We contact potential hybrid entrepreneurs through social media using LinkedIn for telephone interviews. These data are the input for the model which includes the state of hybridity (permanent/temporary), respondent’s generation, risk-aversion, autonomy, growth intentions, and several push and pull indicators. We then test the model using several secondary, quantitative data sources. The first is the Dutch Labour Force Survey (EBB) to give a descriptive trend analysis of the growth in this hybrid entrepreneurship across the years 2003-2019. Next, we use 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 waves from the Dutch Labour Supply Panel which enables the generational perspective on hybrid entrepreneurship and to establish motives for hybrid entrepreneurs, and test the model using multivariate analyses.


The model derived from the qualitative data enables a distinction between temporary and permanent hybrid entrepreneurship. Millennials perceive their hybrid state as temporary, scoring high on autonomy and aim to grow their business. Our findings regarding the model show that most of the Generation X members in our study prefer the permanent state of hybrid entrepreneurship. They value autonomy and see the hybrid state as a comfortable fit choosing to delegate tasks as they grow their business, rather than leave employment. Baby boomers favor the combination of employment and entrepreneurship just as the members of Generation X. The quantitative data analyses show that almost 70% of hybrids remain hybrids for a longer duration. Hybrids are more often male, have a higher level of education, and are more likely to remain a hybrid if not a member of the millennial generation.