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Entrepreneurs, Risk Aversion, and Dynamic Firms

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  • Neus Herranz
  • Stefan Krasa
  • Anne P. Villamil

Abstract

How do entrepreneurs vary firm size, capital structure, and default to manage risk? We show that more risk-averse entrepreneurs run smaller, more highly leveraged firms and default less, because running a smaller firm with higher debt reduces personal funds at risk in the firm. Optimal default depends on ex ante debt, consumption forgone from firm liquidation, and owner capacity to inject funds. We show that entrepreneurs sacrifice current consumption in the hope of future success that never materializes for the bottom 25 percent, but entrepreneurship is a path toward great wealth and high consumption for the top quartile.

Suggested Citation

  • Neus Herranz & Stefan Krasa & Anne P. Villamil, 2015. "Entrepreneurs, Risk Aversion, and Dynamic Firms," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(5), pages 1133-1176.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/682678
    DOI: 10.1086/682678
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stefan Krasa & Tridib Sharma & Anne Villamil, 2008. "Bankruptcy and firm finance," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 36(2), pages 239-266, August.
    2. Galina Vereshchagina & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2009. "Risk Taking by Entrepreneurs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1808-1830, December.
    3. Anna L. Paulson & Robert M. Townsend & Alexander Karaivanov, 2006. "Distinguishing Limited Liability from Moral Hazard in a Model of Entrepreneurship," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 100-144, February.
    4. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
    5. Andrew Glover, 2010. "Bankruptcy, Incorporation, and the Nature of Entrepreneurial Risk," 2010 Meeting Papers 1010, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Florin Bidian & Camelia Bejan, 2015. "Martingale properties of self-enforcing debt," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 60(1), pages 35-57, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shi, Jinchuan & Zhang, Xiaoqian, 2018. "How to explain corporate investment heterogeneity in China's new normal: Structural models with state-owned property rights," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 1-16.
    2. 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.
    3. Duncan, Alfred J. M. & Nolan, Charles, 2019. "Disputes, debt and equity," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 14(3), September.
    4. Beck, Thorsten & Pamuk, Haki & Ramrattan, Ravindra & Uras, Burak R., 2018. "Payment instruments, finance and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 162-186.
    5. Smith, Lisa & Rees, Patricia & Murray, Noel, 2016. "Turning entrepreneurs into intrapreneurs: Thomas Cook, a case-study," Tourism Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 191-204.
    6. Federico Esposito, 2019. "Demand Risk and Diversification through Trade," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0833, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    7. Esposito, Federico, 2020. "Demand Risk and Diversification through International Trade," MPRA Paper 100865, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Chivers, David, 2017. "Success, survive or escape? Aspirations and poverty traps," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 116-132.
    9. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella, 2017. "Saving and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 280-300, October.
    10. Wai-Hong Ho, 2017. "Financial market globalization, nonconvergence and credit cycles," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 153-180, May.
    11. Can, Ege & Fossen, Frank M., 2020. "The Effects of Non-Compete Agreements on Different Types of Self-Employment: Evidence from Massachusetts and Utah," IZA Discussion Papers 13414, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Bachas, Natalie & Kim, Olivia S. & Yannelis, Constantine, 2021. "Loan guarantees and credit supply," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(3), pages 872-894.
    13. Carrillo, Paul & Emran, M. Shahe, 2018. "Loss Aversion, Transaction Costs, or Audit Trigger? Learning about Corporate Tax Compliance from a Policy Experiment with Withholding Regime," MPRA Paper 87445, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Neus Herranz & Stefan Krasa & Anne P. Villamil, 2017. "Entrepreneurs, legal institutions and firm dynamics," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 63(1), pages 263-285, January.
    15. David Chivers & Zhigang Feng & Anne Villamil, 2017. "Employment-based Health Insurance and Misallocation: Implications for the Macroeconomy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 23, pages 125-149, January.
    16. Jim Y. Jin & Shinji Kobayashi, 2016. "Impact of risk aversion and countervailing tax in oligopoly," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 393-408, December.
    17. Gaillard, Alexandre & Kankanamge, Sumudu, 2018. "Entrepreneurship, Labor Market Mobility and the Role of Entrepreneurial Insurance," TSE Working Papers 18-929, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jan 2019.
    18. Duane Rockerbie & Stephen Easton, 2018. "Revenue Sharing in Major League Baseball: The Moments That Meant so Much," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-16, August.
    19. Kankanamge, Sumudu & Gaillard, Alexandre, 2020. "Buying and Selling Entrepreneurial Assets," TSE Working Papers 20-1078, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    20. Federico Esposito, 2016. "Risk Diversification and International Trade," 2016 Meeting Papers 302, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. James Cunningham & Alistair R. Anderson, 2018. "Inspired or Foolhardy: Sensemaking, Confidence and Entrepreneurs’ Decision-Making," Group Decision and Negotiation, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 393-415, June.
    22. Joel M. Vanden, 2016. "Optimal capital structures for private firms," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 245-273, May.

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