Risk Taking Propensity of Entrepreneurs

Posted: 17 Nov 2009

Date Written: 1980


The entrepreneurial literature traditionally considers risk taking an important distinguishing element in entrepreneurship. This study examines the risk taking propensity of the founders or managers of new ventures. Upon examination of competing definitions of the entrepreneur, this analysis defines an entrepreneur as "a major owner and manager of a business venture who is not employed elsewhere." Risk taking is considered "the perceived probability of receiving the rewards associated with success of a proposed situation" required before embarking on a venture. Three levels of risk taking (low, intermediate or moderate, and high) could affect the decision to start a business venture. Risk taking was measured using the Wallach and Kogan choice dilemmas questionnaire (CDQ). Studied were entrepreneurs, promoted managers, and new (or transferred) managers of firms located in St. Louis in 1975; 31 questionnaires were used for each group. The results are not statistically different. Entrepreneurs and managers are found to have the same risk taking propensity. Because previous studies of risk preferences examined limited samples, CDQ scores were also compared against a sample representing the general population. Found that risk taking propensity of entrepreneurs is same as that for the general population. Results also show that entrepreneurs, managers, and the general population all have a propensity for moderate risk. Overall, general risk taking does not distinguish entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs. (TNM)

Keywords: Startups, Risk orientation, Managers, Entrepreneurial environment, Founders

Suggested Citation

Brockhaus, Robert H., Risk Taking Propensity of Entrepreneurs (1980). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1504504

Robert H. Brockhaus (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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