How Do Investors Evaluate Past Entreneurial Failure? Unpacking Failure Due to Lack og Skill Versus Bad Luck

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Research has shown that most ventures fail, yet there has been limited work on investors’ views of entrepreneurs who have failed in the past. We address this gap and call attention to an innate asymmetry between past failure and success. This asymmetry arises because success requires skill and luck jointly, whereas failure materializes due to either lack of skill (mistakes) or bad luck (misfortune). We ask: Are investors “failure-averse” and discount a failed entrepreneur even in the presence of additional information about entrepreneurial skill? Or do they make “rational inferences” in light of the additional skill information and proceed to fund the new startup? To test whether investors are failure-averse or engage in rational inference, we use experiments in the context of equity crowdfunding. The results suggest that prospective crowdfunding investors rationally integrate informational cues regarding past outcomes and entrepreneurial skill.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1083-1109
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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