Are Entrepreneurs more Optimistic and Overconfident than Managers and Employees?

Martin Koudstaal, Randolph Sloof, Mirjam Van Praag

    Research output: Working paperResearch

    Abstract

    Empirical evidence supports the conventional wisdom that entrepreneurs are more optimistic and overconfident than others. However, the same holds true for top managers. In this lab-in-the-field experiment we directly compare the scores of entrepreneurs, managers and employees on a comprehensive set of measures of optimism and overconfidence (n = 2,058). The results show that on average entrepreneurs are more optimistic than others in their dispositional optimism and attributional style when bad events occur. For incentivized measures of overconfidence we find no difference between entrepreneurs and managers, although both are more prone to it than employees. Finally, exploration of within-group heterogeneities shows that optimism and success are more strongly related for managers than for entrepreneurs and that an average entrepreneur is not more optimistic than successful managers. We conclude that optimism and overconfidence are indeed characteristics of entrepreneurs, but they are not unique when compared to (top) managers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAmsterdam
    PublisherTinbergen Institute
    Number of pages31
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    SeriesTinbergen Institute Discussion Papers
    Number15-124/VII

    Keywords

    • Entrepreneurs
    • Managers
    • Dispositional optimism
    • Attributional style
    • Overestimation
    • Overconfidence
    • Behavioral economics

    Cite this

    Koudstaal, M., Sloof, R., & Van Praag, M. (2015). Are Entrepreneurs more Optimistic and Overconfident than Managers and Employees? Amsterdam: Tinbergen Institute. Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers, No. 15-124/VII