Biography as a “tree of Choices”: Discovering the Life Trajectories of Young Entrepreneurs in Russia (Management Project)

Download Project:

Fields with * are mandatory


The article reveals the life trajectories of Russian entrepreneurs in the context of four modern institutions of socialization which determine individual career paths—family, education, social environment and professional experience. Our empirical data were 20 semi-structured narrative interviews with entrepreneurs analyzed based on grounded theory (open and axial coding).

We analyzed individual life trajectories as “trees of choices,” where the main branches are institutions of socialization, and the subsequent branches—individual life features. Finally, we showed the meanings of each institution and found out the determining role of gender and the city of socialization. The empirical output is a model of life trajectories, which we plan to test in a future survey using the strategy of mixed methods research.

Life Trajectories of Young Entrepreneurs.

Life Trajectories of Young Entrepreneurs.


The study was carried out in 2013-2014 years in Moscow. In present study 20 narrative interviews was conducted with entrepreneurs. The materials were analyzed by ualitative data analysis procedures as open and axial coding.

Narrative interviews have the  potential to validate individual knowledge and to understand motives whose designation one of the main aims of the current study. Narrative interview is unformalized  (respondent’s story is an improvisation) and it gives “freedom” in the narration, but the structure and logic of the narrative is also present.


The informants were 18-30-year-old entrepreneurs. We applied the purposive sample. So, we understand an entrepreneur is an individual who registered in accordance with the law and had been owned his  or her business for at least 3 years.

Majority  of participants are the owners of “small business” and the information about the type of business was not collected as part of the current study. The informant’s characteristics include socio-demographic data such as age and gender. These assumptions were made based on literature sources (Lytkina,2004) where male and female life trajectories are different due to different social roles they play.

The Institutions of Socialization and Choice of Entrepreneur’s Career:

As we assumed in our study, each of the four institutions of socialization mentioned above play different role in male and female decision to become an entrepreneur and continue this career path. During the analysis, we also noticed that the respondent’s city of socialization makes some differences in their life trajectories. We consider each of them individually.


An analysis shows that the “education” for men and women carries different meanings. Women understand education as a learning process while men consider it as network development and self-learning.

Men mainly underline the social role of education and perceive university as a micro world where students learn from each other’s experience and have a good time together.


During the analyses of family stories, we found that men’s families mostly do not support their entrepreneurial endeavors compared with women’s family. However, it  just motivates men to continue their business path.

They often did everything in  spite of their parents, and in the case of business failure, they stubbornly defended  their position by launching new business projects.

Social environment and professional experience

We noticed novel trend for men: the more often one changes his job the sooner he starts his own business. Indeed, almost every one of them had dabbled in business at school or as a first-year student.

In addition, the majority of men did not want to be employed, compared with women, because of high financial expectation and the desire  to be independent. They emphasize the importance of their own daily schedule, own decisions and freedom of action as the core values.

Gender and City of Socialization are Significant Social Factors Determined Entrepreneurs Trajectories:

Consider our methodology and sample size we can’t generalize our results to the entire population. Therefore, we consider checking our hypothesis in further quantitative survey. The analysis of the narratives showed that gender and city of socialization are factors, which have been displayed in informant’s life trajectories. The differences are depicted in “life trees”.

Male’s/ Female’s Life Trajectories.

Male’s/ Female’s Life Trajectories.


The present study identifies diversity of young entrepreneur life trajectories in  Russia. These trajectories depending on their socio-demographic characteristics and  background (education, work experience, etc.). The analytical findings were obtained  and the qualitative data were structured using the open and axial coding procedure.

The way twenty biographies were presented, as trees, we find adequate for life story  visualization. It presented four institutions of socialization, forming individual’s trajectories. Our findings show that life paths of young entrepreneurs are depending on gender and the city of socialization. In fact, there are three tactics: creative, fighting and compromise, parents may use to grow an entrepreneur (Poylova, 2015).

The current research could be also developed, using the principle of mixed methods research called “sequential contributions”(Morgan,  2013). Mixed methods build a chain between the data: the results of qualitative research can be used as a starting point for further quantitative survey.

This approach integrates the results of both methods and extends them to the macro level. To check our hypotheses statistically we plan to create an online-questionnaire, including  variables as gender and city of socialization, on the one hand, and institutions of socialization on the other.

Source: Nova South Eastern University
Authors: Anastasia Poylova | Elizavet a Polukhina

Download Project

Download Project:

Fields with * are mandatory