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An investigation of hindsight bias in nascent venture activity

Listed author(s):
  • Cassar, Gavin
  • Craig, Justin

We posit that individuals who are actively engaged in activities to develop their own venture will exhibit hindsight bias when recalling their startup experiences. We observe that those who fail to develop their startup activity into an operating business demonstrate substantial hindsight bias concerning the probability of venture formation. In particular, the recalled probability of success, reported after their decision to quit, is lower than the probability of success solicited during the nascent process. We argue that the systematic distortion of the past has important implications for individuals involved in the venturing process. Specifically, we suggest that these individuals are at risk of overestimating their chances of success when starting future nascent activity if they do not correct for their optimistic tendencies. The evidence from this study suggests it is important to recognize that what nascent entrepreneurs believe they experienced, and what they actually experienced, may not be equivalent.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883-9026(08)00031-1
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Business Venturing.

Volume (Year): 24 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 149-164

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:24:y:2009:i:2:p:149-164
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbusvent

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  1. Gervais, Simon & Odean, Terrance, 2001. "Learning to be Overconfident," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(1), pages 1-27.
  2. Cassar, Gavin, 2006. "Entrepreneur opportunity costs and intended venture growth," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 610-632, September.
  3. Sexton, Donald L. & Upton, Nancy B. & Wacholtz, Larry E. & McDougall, Patricia P., 1997. "Learning needs of growth-oriented entrepreneurs," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 1-8, January.
  4. Schkade, David A. & Kilbourne, Lynda M., 1991. "Expectation-outcome consistency and hindsight bias," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 105-123, June.
  5. Vesper, Karl H. & Gartner, William B., 1997. "Measuring progress in entrepreneurship education," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 403-421, September.
  6. Gatewood, Elizabeth J. & Shaver, Kelly G. & Gartner, William B., 1995. "A longitudinal study of cognitive factors influencing start-up behaviors and success at venture creation," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 371-391, September.
  7. Busenitz, Lowell W. & Barney, Jay B., 1997. "Differences between entrepreneurs and managers in large organizations: Biases and heuristics in strategic decision-making," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 9-30, January.
  8. Frederic Delmar & Per Davidsson, 2000. "Where do they come from? Prevalence and characteristics of nascent entrepreneurs," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 1-23, January.
  9. Corbett, Andrew C., 2007. "Learning asymmetries and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 97-118, January.
  10. Palich, Leslie E. & Ray Bagby, D., 1995. "Using cognitive theory to explain entrepreneurial risk-taking: Challenging conventional wisdom," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 425-438, November.
  11. Cooper, Arnold C. & Woo, Carolyn Y. & Dunkelberg, William C., 1988. "Entrepreneurs' perceived chances for success," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 97-108.
  12. Scott Shane & Rakesh Khurana, 2003. "Bringing individuals back in: the effects of career experience on new firm founding," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(3), pages 519-543, June.
  13. Christensen-Szalanski, Jay J. J. & Willham, Cynthia Fobian, 1991. "The hindsight bias: A meta-analysis," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 147-168, February.
  14. Parker, Simon C., 2006. "Learning about the unknown: How fast do entrepreneurs adjust their beliefs?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, January.
  15. Carter, Nancy M. & Gartner, William B. & Reynolds, Paul D., 1996. "Exploring start-up event sequences," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 151-166, May.
  16. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
  17. Simon, Mark & Houghton, Susan M. & Aquino, Karl, 2000. "Cognitive biases, risk perception, and venture formation: How individuals decide to start companies," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 113-134, March.
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