Surprisingly Stable: An Experiment on Willingness to Bear Uncertainty in Individuals with and without Entrepreneurial Intentions

Giulio Zichella*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: Entrepreneurs are often considered to be more willing to bear and manage uncertainty than non-entrepreneurs. However, the available empirical evidence regarding this topic is limited and mixed. By adopting an experimental design, the paper’s purpose is to shed light on a causal mechanism behind decision making under uncertainty.
Design/methodology/approach: This paper outlines the performance of a quasi-laboratory experiment that investigates whether a lack of predictive information affects individuals with entrepreneurial intentions in their likelihood to choose uncertainty vis-à-vis certainty. Drawing on prospect theory, it is argued that individuals with entrepreneurial intentions are less sensitive than individuals without entrepreneurial intentions due to a framing effect that occurs when information about probabilities is manipulated. In particular, it is argued that individuals with entrepreneurial intentions are more likely than their comparable counterparts to choose consistently among monetary opportunities that share everything in common but information about probabilities of success.
Findings: This study finds support for the argument, as individuals with entrepreneurial intentions have preferences pertaining to uncertainty that are more stable compared to those of individuals without such intentions. The results hold after controlling for a number of alternative explanations, including status quo bias, prior gain effect and degree of risk effect.
Originality/value: The paper tackles a fundamental issue in entrepreneurship—namely behavior under uncertainty—by adopting a novel approach. In particular, an experimental design is used to test for causality between availability of information and choices involving monetary rewards. Results have implications for the understanding of factors that guide entrepreneurial choices under uncertainty and, ultimately, entrepreneurial action.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Development
Issue number9/10
Pages (from-to)989-1011
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 24 August 2020.


  • Entrepreneurship
  • Risk
  • Uncertainty
  • Framing effect

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