Optimism and Overconfidence in
Strategic Decision Making:
Are Managers and Entrepreneurs
Joint work with Laura Rosendahl Huber (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, and Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition) and Randolph Sloof (University of Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute.
Empirical evidence supports the conventional wisdom that entrepreneurs are more optimistic and overconfident than others. However, the same holds true for top managers. In this lab-in-the-fiield experiment we directly compare the scores of entrepreneurs, managers and employees on a comprehensive set of measures of optimism and overcondence (n = 2,404). The results show that on average entrepreneurs and managers are more optimistic than employees in their dispositional optimism and explanatory style of past events. For an incentivized measure of overconfidence we find no difference between entrepreneurs and managers, who both are more likely to overestimation compared to employees. Finally, exploration of within-group heterogeneity shows that these observations hold true for various sub-groups of entrepreneurs and managers. We conclude that optimism and overconfidence are indeed characteristics of entrepreneurs, but they are not unique when compared to (top) managers.
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Risk Preferences of Female Entrepreneurs: Closing the Gender Data Gap in Entrepreneurship
Joint work with Eszter Czibor (Nesta´s Innovation Growth Lab) and Laura Rosendahl Huber (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, and Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition).
There is a rich academic literature studying the behavioral determinants of entrepreneurship. Most empirical studies in this field draw general conclusions about entrepreneurs based on heavily male-dominated samples. In light of the gender differences in various personality traits observed in non-entrepreneurial populations, it is unclear to what extent these findings generalize to female entrepreneurs. Our study highlights the gender data gap in several inuential experimental studies on risk preferences in entrepreneurship. We contribute to closing this gap by explicitly measuring female entrepreneurs' risk propensity, both relative to male entrepreneurs and to female employees. We analyze data from a large, multi-wave online experiment conducted in the Netherlands that included a validated survey measure and an incentivized choice-based measure of the participants' willingness to take risk, and measured their demographic and business-related characteristics. We show that female entrepreneurs are substantially more risk tolerant than female employees a finding that is also true for owners of early-stage businesses, suggesting that more risk tolerant women select into entrepreneurship. In our sample of employees, we replicate the established finding that women are considerably less likely to take risks than men. However, among entrepreneurs, the gender gap in risk propensity is much smaller and not statistically significant and disappears entirely when we restrict our attention to entrepreneurs with incorporated businesses. Our findings are consistent with the theory that entrepreneurship requires higher risk tolerance, and suggest that the gender gap in risk-taking in the general population might contribute to the gender gap in entrepreneurship. Our results thus imply that entrepreneurship support policies that involve a reduction in the (perception of the) riskiness of entrepreneurial activities (e.g. access to social insurance; grants convertible to loans) might have a particularly strong positive impact on women's propensity to start up, while they will benefit owners of established businesses similarly irrespective of their gender.
Personality Traits of Intrapreneurs
There is little empirical evidence on the personality traits of intrapreneurs, i.e. entrepreneurs within established corporate structures. On the basis of typical traits attributed to entrepreneurs, namely the "Big Five" personality traits - openness to experience, conscientiousness, sociability, agreeableness and emotional stability - achievement motivation, optimism, overconfidence, proactivity, willingness to take risks, conviction of control, self-efficacy, innovativeness and striving for independence, this paper discusses the extent to which these should or should not also apply to intrapreneurs.