The Bright but Right View? New Evidence on Entrepreneurial Optimism
Existing empirical evidence suggest that entrepreneurs are optimists, a finding researchers often interpret as evidence of a behavioral bias in entrepreneurial decision-making. We revisit this claim by analyzing an unusually large survey dataset (180,814 responses) that allows us to create a good measure of entrepreneurial optimism. Our measure is based on the individual’s beliefs about nationwide future economic conditions. These beliefs form a good measure of optimism because they, unlike an individual’s beliefs about her own future economic conditions, are completely uncorrelated with the individual’s own life or work situation (which is not optimism). Our data highlight the importance of measuring optimism correctly. About half of the survey respondents differ in their beliefs about nationwide and own conditions. In addition to its conceptual and empirical relevance, our measure of optimism makes it possible to relate an individual’s beliefs to actual outcomes. We can thereby test, in a novel way, whether entrepreneurial optimism is a behavioral bias or not. We first show that entrepreneurs have more favorable beliefs about nationwide conditions. We then show that these entrepreneurs’ beliefs are relatively good predictors of the future. We conclude from these two findings that entrepreneurs are less biased towards optimism than non-entrepreneurs are biased towards pessimism. Additional evidence pertaining to education, which arguably correlates positively with rational decision-making, supports this conclusion. We show that entrepreneurs are more educated and their beliefs about the future are more similar to educated peoples’ beliefs. In summary, our paper documents that entrepreneurial optimism is an important real-world phenomenon, yet, it may not be a behavioral bias that gives rise to irrational decision-making.
|Date of creation:||08 Jan 2014|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund,Sweden|
Phone: +46 +46 222 0000
Fax: +46 +46 2224613
Web page: http://www.nek.lu.se/en
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Augustin Landier & David Thesmar, 2009.
"Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs,"
Review of Financial Studies,
Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 117-150, January.
- Augustin Landier & David Thesmar, 2009. "Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs," Post-Print hal-00461106, HAL.
- Ola Bengtsson & Dan Bernhardt, 2014. "Lawyers In Venture Capital Contracting: Theory And Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1080-1102, 07.
- StewartJr., Wayne H. & Watson, Warren E. & Carland, Joann C. & Carland, James W., 1999. "A proclivity for entrepreneurship: A comparison of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and corporate managers," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 189-214, March.
- Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 745-778, September.
- Mueller, Stephen L. & Thomas, Anisya S., 2001. "Culture and entrepreneurial potential: A nine country study of locus of control and innovativeness," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 51-75, January.
- 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.
- Cramer, J. S. & Hartog, J. & Jonker, N. & Van Praag, C. M., 2002. "Low risk aversion encourages the choice for entrepreneurship: an empirical test of a truism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 29-36, May.
- Stuart Fraser & Francis J. Greene, 2006. "The Effects of Experience on Entrepreneurial Optimism and Uncertainty," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(290), pages 169-192, 05.
- 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.
- De Meza, D. & Southey, C., 1995.
"The Borrower's Curse: Optimism, Finance and Enterpreneurship,"
9502, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
- de Meza, David & Southey, Clive, 1996. "The Borrower's Curse: Optimism, Finance and Entrepreneurship," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 375-86, March.
- Mathew L. A. Hayward & Dean A. Shepherd & Dale Griffin, 2006. "A Hubris Theory of Entrepreneurship," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(2), pages 160-172, February.
- Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2006.
"Risk Attitudes of Nascent Entrepreneurs: New Evidence from an Experimentally-Validated Survey,"
IZA Discussion Papers
2168, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Marco Caliendo & Frank Fossen & Alexander Kritikos, 2009. "Risk attitudes of nascent entrepreneurs–new evidence from an experimentally validated survey," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 153-167, February.
- Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2006. "Risk Attitudes of Nascent Entrepreneurs: New Evidence from an Experimentally Validated Survey," Discussion Papers 252, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
- Marco Caliendo & Frank M. Fossen & Alexander S. Kritikos, 2006. "Risk Attitudes of Nascent Entrepreneurs: New Evidence from an Experimentally-Validated Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 600, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
- Ucbasaran, Deniz & Westhead, Paul & Wright, Mike & Flores, Manuel, 2010. "The nature of entrepreneurial experience, business failure and comparative optimism," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 541-555, November.
- Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 8876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- van Praag, C M & Cramer, J S, 2001. "The Roots of Entrepreneurship and Labour Demand: Individual Ability and Low Risk Aversion," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(269), pages 45-62, February.
- Mike Wright & Paul Westhead & Deniz Ucbasaran, 2007. "Internationalization of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and International Entrepreneurship: A Critique and Policy Implications," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(7), pages 1013-1030.
- Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2014_001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Edgerton)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.