European Business Schools Librarian's Group

Les Cahiers de Recherche,
HEC Paris

No 1101: Seeking the Roots of Entrepreneurship: Insights from Behavioral Economics

Thomas Astebro , Holger Herz , Ramana Nanda and Roberto Weber
Additional contact information
Thomas Astebro: HEC Paris, Postal: HEC Paris, 1 rue de la libération
Holger Herz: University of Fribourg
Ramana Nanda: Harvard University
Roberto Weber: University of Zurich

Abstract: In this article, we critically evaluate what the existing research shows regarding the individual determinants of entrepreneurship. We begin by documenting a set of facts that seem to pose a challenge for interpretations of entrepreneurship based on the standard expected utility framework. Drawing on research in behavioral economics we then review three sets of possible interpretations — risk aversion, overconfidence, and non-pecuniary, taste-based factors — for understanding the empirical facts related to the entry into, and persistence in entrepreneurship. The central thesis of this article is that while all these candidate explanations have merit and can account for some aspects of the facts above, there is little evidence of a “smoking gun” that can completely account for all the puzzling patterns we observe.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; risk aversion; overconfidence; taste

JEL-codes: L26

22 pages, October 21, 2015

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