Intergenerational Entrepreneurship, Well-Being and Social Innovation

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Building a sustainable and resilient culture of entrepreneurial innovation requires leveraging intergenerational engagement, well-being, and a person-centred innovation potential that can be scalable across different organizations and sectors. In my paper presentation, I critically analyze literature on these issues from two perspectives and identify what gaps warrant further study. Firstly, I adopt a lens of innovation that adapts Doss, Brett and Hwang’s (2015) The Rainforest Scorecard, which offers a framework for growing innovation potential within the entrepreneurial ecosystem (see Hwang 2012). Secondly, I frame well-being from both a psychological and socio-cultural perspective as a key indicator of intergenerational innovation and sustainable growth in entrepreneurial endeavors.


Research on intergenerational entrepreneurship is not new. For instance, existing studies have discussed the context of family business or intergenerational succession (Lindquist, Sol, Van Praag 2012), intergenerational transmission of entrepreneurial intentions and risk preferences (Doepke, Zilibotti 2011), intergenerational mobility and the transmission of well-being (Pfeiffer and Schoeni 2014), the importance of intergenerational learning and mentorship (Pinto, 2010) and the emergence of the “encore movement” that empowers baby boomers nearing retirement with renewed purpose (Halvorsen 2013). Furthermore, the emphasis on collaboration across generations is diverse. It is not isolated to any one sector. Attention to intergenerational bridging can be seen in areas including nursing unions, global architecture and strategic consulting firms, banks, and educational institutions, to simply highlight a few (see Fry, 2011; Kirkpatrick; Fondation de l’entrepreneurship 2010; Martin, and Warneke 2008).


In regards to innovation, this is typically evaluated in reference to actions and outcomes (e.g. new products, diversifying markets, adopting new processes and services). However, the Rainforest Scorecard model leverages a person-centred perspective that emphasizes beliefs, behavior, emotion and empathy. Thus, innovating an entrepreneurial ecosystem’s survival, differentiation and growth is concerned with the person, authentic relationships, trust, re-thinking leadership from multidisciplinary backgrounds, diverse inter-cultural networks, and inviting new external collaborations outside one’s circle of familiarity. This contrasts networks based merely on self-interest, fear, transactional benefits and status quo.


Well-being, of course, offers an alternative to the over-reliance on GDP as a measure of a country’s quality and is increasingly becoming valued in global consciousness. I assume that well-being is comprised of multiple dimensions, including measures of individual well-being in relation to stress, self-care, social support, availability of rational/cognitive coping resources, recreation (e.g. Occupational Stress Inventory, or OSI-R). Also, I situate these dimensions in connection to national indicators of well-being such as living conditions, education, leisure, democratic engagement (e.g. see “Canadian Index of Well-Being” based on Statistics Canada Census; see also the “Findicator” from Statistics Finland).

There is a need to consolidate these many areas of research from their respective silos of study and examine what gaps require further attention. Thus, my paper urgently embraces this opportunity to critically analyze the various literatures and challenge researchers/analysts to explore, from a human-centred perspective, to what extent individual well-being in the workplace and national well-being interacts with entrepreneurial innovation and intergenerational processes. Potential gaps and opportunities for future research are explored.



-This is a Research Summary (Abstract) of my academic conference paper presentation.
-(Original title of conference presentation: Intergenerational Entrepreneurship, Well-Being and Innovation: Building Sustainable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. AIE Conference 2015, Ted Rogers school of management, Ryerson university, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)


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