Cut Me Some Slack! Slack Resources and Technology-Mediated Human Capital Investments in Entrepreneurship

Publication Date



Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis


In this paper, we explore the impact that slack resources and technology can have on individuals' entrepreneurial aspirations. Focusing on human capital investments that individuals make through education and work that involve both slack resources and technology, we explore the relationship among formal online learning opportunities, informal skill development in the gig economy, and entrepreneurial aspirations. Leveraging a novel dataset that merges administrative tax data with a survey of over 8,528 low and moderate-income households, we use machine learning and propensity score weighting to examine the likelihood that individuals who make these technology-mediated human capital investments will have increased odds of entrepreneurial aspirations when compared to similar individuals who do not make these investments. We find that both partaking in online learning and working in the gig economy are significantly associated with increased odds of entrepreneurial aspirations. Furthermore, through a variety of robustness and mechanism checks, we find that technology-mediation is an important factor in these relationships and that informal skill development and career preparation is one way in which gig employment influences entrepreneurial aspirations. We discuss these findings with implications for both policies and practices around online learning and gig employment.

Document Type

Working Paper


This working paper has now been published by the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research.

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Online Learning; Gig Employment; Slack Resources; Entrepreneurship

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