This exploratory study examines the phenomenon of retirement as a factor of consideration in small business owner succession planning in the United States (U.S.). A mixed methods approach, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative analyses, was used to answer the question: In what ways do perceptions of retirement influence small business owner succession planning? Small business owners (N = 102) primarily from the upper Midwest completed a 15-item online questionnaire which asked both closed and open-ended questions related to business and business owner demographics, as well as owner perceptions of retirement. Businesses included are both family owned and non-family owned. Small business owners selected to participate in the interview met the following criteria: (a) current CEO of a business, (b) CEO of the same business for a minimum of 10 years, (c) business has 2 – 99 employees, (d) for profit business designation. The semi-structured interview protocol was conducted with 17 small business owners.

Triangulation of analyses and findings resulted in significance: Perceptions of retirement do influence small business owner succession planning. Society views of retirement are significant as a factor in views owners have of their own retirement. Further research is suggested to expand the research related to succession planning and valence assignment of factors to determine impact, if any, to succession planning follow through as well as further exploration of other factors, post succession, that may have relevance to the phenomenon of succession planning implementation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Retirement -- Planning; Family-owned business enterprises -- Succession; Small business

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Martine Jago