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.
# 15-124/VII (2015-11-06)
- Martin Koudstaal, VU University Amsterdam; Randolph Sloof, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Mirjam van Praag, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
- Entrepreneurs, managers, dispositional optimism, attributional style, overestimation, overconfidence, behavioral economics
- JEL codes:
- L26, C93, D03, M13