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30 August 2018

FSB Wales Blog - Interview with Phil Swan

Gen Z graphic

What does your work focus on?

I am currently working on a five year doctoral research project at the University of South Wales. The study focuses on the behaviours of Generation Z entrepreneurs in Wales. I will looking a to build a more complete picture by also be looking at the social contexts that have shaped those behaviours. This is likely to give us a clearer picture of the future of entrepreneurship in Wales.

Who are Generation Z?

Generation Z are post-millenials. They were born in the year 2000 and afterwards, so the oldest Generation Z individuals are turning 18 this year and heading out into the world, whether that be joining the workforce, continuing education or training, or starting their own business.

This work has already demonstrated that people from different generations are coloured very differently by the events and experiences that they encounter. Throughout this work I will be taking a look at the social and historical events experienced by Generation Z – whether that’s worldwide events such as Brexit or the financial crash in 2008 or changing social and political issues such as the rise of feminism and the campaign against the gender pay gap. Not just that, but the various technological advances that change the way that we do things. Generation Z are “digital natives” and are the first generation who will not remember a time without the internet.

I want to develop a better understanding of some of the key behavioural characteristics of Generation Z entrepreneurs as they begin to setup new business ventures, and how do business support organisations and Welsh Government need to organise themselves to support them.

What interested you in this topic?

This study is about building up a clearer picture of how and why Generation Z entrepreneurs are doing things differently. Why people think and behave differently has always fascinated me and this research will allow me to explore some of the social contexts that are shaping the way a whole generation are approaching entrepreneurship in Wales.

What have been the most interesting aspects of your work so far?

The most interesting aspect of my research so far has been looking at evidence relating to whether generational differences exist as well as what previous studies have suggested are the key generational differences, and the types of events and shared memories have helped to shape them. I think it’s really easy to relate some of the generational differences described in the research with people that I know, including members of my own family. I would encourage everyone to consider the people in their own lives of different generations, and think about how different social and technological shifts, as well as significant historical events, particularly in their younger years, have shaped how their values and behaviours on many topics.

What do you hope that your work will achieve?

My research firmly accepts that the young entrepreneurs participating in this study are individuals with different backgrounds and behaviours and will not necessarily represent all people belonging to Generation Z. This study isn’t aiming to create a generalised view of how Generation Z behave or what drives their behaviour, but instead, will develop fresh insight as a basis to further develop our understanding of Generation Z from an entrepreneurial perspective. This study is about putting educators, business support organisations, policy makers, and business owners in a better position to support, encourage, and provide an environment that allows Generation Z entrepreneurs to thrive.