The Effects of Childhood Experiences in Adulthood: Implications for Business Activity and Research
Special Issue Guest Editors
Zhiming Cheng, The University of New South Wales
Youqing Fan, Western Sydney University
Zhou Jiang, Flinders University
Russell Smyth, Monash University
Massimiliano Tani, The University of New South Wales
Ben Zhe Wang, Macquarie University
The Journal of Business Research will publish a special issue containing selected papers on examining the effects of childhood experiences on adult behaviour and outcomes in relation to business decisions, processes and activities.
Many children have experienced famine, malnutrition, violence, poverty, neglect, abuse, homelessness, discrimination, bullying, health issues and other forms of adversities. For example, over half of the world’s nearly 26 million refugees are children, among whom many spend their entire childhoods away from homes or families (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 2019). In Australia, for instance, more than 170,000 children (one in 33 children) received child protection services and nearly 45,000 children were in out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020). Many developing countries have experienced large waves of internal migration with resultant ‘left-behind’ children. In rural China, approximately 12 million children under age 2 were left behind by parents who migrated to cities for work, resulting in those left-behind children having poorer cognitive development (Yue et al., 2020). In urban China, children of rural-urban migrant workers often experience discrimination within the urban public-school system, which prioritises resources for local students (Wang, Cheng, & Smyth, 2018). How do these childhood experiences play out later in life? What are the channels through which this occurs? Do they contribute to economic choices, work practice, and performance? Do they confirm or challenge economic and management theories about decision-making, the organisation of work, the formation of successful business?
There is a growing body of literature on the relationship between childhood circumstances and adult economic and career behaviour and outcomes. For instance, a relatively early study suggests that most successful CEOs have a ‘normal and happy’ childhood (Cox & Cooper, 1989). Another study finds that having a difficult childhood is positively correlated with entrepreneurial intentions by increasing one’s self-reliance, which, in turn, increases one’s ability to cope with the risks and uncertainties of self-employment (Drennan, Kennedy, & Renfrow, 2005). These contrasting and conflicting empirical results reflect theoretical ambiguity in the predictions of human capital theory regarding the relationship between (early) life experience and entrepreneurial behaviour and outcomes (Simoes, Crespo, & Moreira, 2015).
Many gaps remain in our understanding of the effect of childhood experiences on economic behaviour later in life. A recent … READ MORE