On The Preferences of Principals and Agents
AbstractOne of the reasons why market economies are able to thrive is that they exploit the willingness of entrepreneurs to take risks that laborers might prefer to avoid. Markets work because they remunerate good judgement and punish mistakes. Indeed, modern contract theory is based on the assumption that principals are less risk averse than agents. We investigate if the risk preferences of entrepreneurs are different from those of laborers by implementing experiments with a random sample of the population in a fast-growing, small-manufacturing, economic cluster. As assumed by theory, we find that entrepreneurs are more likely to take risks than hired managers. These results are robust to the inclusion of a series of controls. This lends support to the idea that risk preferences are an important determinant of selection into occupations. Finally, our lotteries are good predictors of financial decisions, thus giving support to the external validity of our risk measures and experimental methods.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2007-12.
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
- D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
- D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-04-15 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2008-04-15 (Business Economics)
- NEP-ENT-2008-04-15 (Entrepreneurship)
- NEP-EXP-2008-04-15 (Experimental Economics)
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