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Risk and time preferences of entrepreneurs: evidence from a Danish field experiment

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  • Steffen Andersen

    ()

  • Amalia Girolamo

    ()

  • Glenn Harrison

    ()

  • Morten Lau

    ()

Abstract

To understand how small business entrepreneurs respond to government policy one has to know their risk and time preferences. Are they risk averse, or have high discount rates, such that they are hard to motivate? We have conducted a set of field experiments in Denmark that will allow a direct characterization of small business entrepreneurs in terms of these traits. We build on experimental tasks that are well established in the literature. The results do not suggest that small business entrepreneurs are more or less risk averse than the general population under the assumption of Expected Utility Theory. However, we generally find an S-shaped probability weighting function for both small business entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs being more optimistic about the chance of occurrence for the best outcome in lotteries with real monetary outcomes. The results also point to a significant difference in individual discount rates between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs are willing to wait longer for certain rewards than the general population. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Steffen Andersen & Amalia Girolamo & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau, 2014. "Risk and time preferences of entrepreneurs: evidence from a Danish field experiment," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(3), pages 341-357, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:theord:v:77:y:2014:i:3:p:341-357
    DOI: 10.1007/s11238-014-9446-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Steffen Andersen & John Fountain & Glenn Harrison & E. Rutström, 2014. "Estimating subjective probabilities," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 207-229, June.
    2. Andersen, Steffen & Harrison, Glenn W. & Lau, Morten I. & Rutström, E. Elisabet, 2014. "Discounting behavior: A reconsideration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 15-33.
    3. List, John A. & Mason, Charles F., 2011. "Are CEOs expected utility maximizers?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 162(1), pages 114-123, May.
    4. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, May.
    5. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
    6. John D. Hey & Chris Orme, 2018. "Investigating Generalizations Of Expected Utility Theory Using Experimental Data," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Experiments in Economics Decision Making and Markets, chapter 3, pages 63-98, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    7. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2007. "Estimating Risk Attitudes in Denmark: A Field Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(2), pages 341-368, June.
    8. Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & Melonie B. Williams, 2002. "Estimating Individual Discount Rates in Denmark: A Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1606-1617, December.
    9. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    10. Hakan J. Holm & Sonja Opper & Victor Nee, 2013. "Entrepreneurs Under Uncertainty: An Economic Experiment in China," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(7), pages 1671-1687, July.
    11. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2013. "Discounting Behaviour and the Magnitude Effect: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Denmark," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(320), pages 670-697, October.
    12. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
    13. Glenn W. Harrison & Eric Johnson & Melayne M. McInnes & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2005. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 897-901, June.
    14. Glenn Harrison & J. Swarthout, 2014. "Experimental payment protocols and the Bipolar Behaviorist," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(3), pages 423-438, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Keller, Godfrey & Novák, Vladimír & Willems, Tim, 2019. "A note on optimal experimentation under risk aversion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 476-487.
    2. Chen, Hsiao-Chi & Liu, Shi-Miin, 2016. "Should ports expand their facilities under congestion and uncertainty?," Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 109-131.
    3. Gary Charness & Thomas Garcia & Theo Offerman & Marie Claire Villeval, 2019. "Do measures of risk attitude in the laboratory predict behavior under risk in and outside of the laboratory?," Working Papers 1921, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    4. Martin Koudstaal & Randolph Sloof & Mirjam van Praag, 2015. "Are Entrepreneurs more Optimistic and Overconfident than Managers and Employees?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-124/VII, Tinbergen Institute.

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