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Attitudes to Risk and Entrepreneurship

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Entrepreneurship, as defined by Stevenson (1983) “… is the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control”. Stevenson and Gumpert (1985, pp. 85-94) advise that the preceding definition represents both the individual as well as the society that he or she is embedded in as he or she identifies an opportunity they desire to pursue, and as an entrepreneur they thus must seek the resources from the broader society.

The approach to entrepreneurship as voiced by Stevenson and Gumpert (1985, pp. 85-94) builds upon earlier scholars such as Schumpeter (1934) who identified the context of the interaction of the individual and wider society. The title of Schumpeter’s (1934) work “The Theory of Economic Development” could almost be suited to a title for entrepreneurship, as Harper (2003, p. 1) advises that one of the prominent features “… of a competitive enterprise economy is the ability of people continually to seek out and seize opportunities for profitable new activities in local and world markets”. That statement mirrors the definition of entrepreneurship as put forth by Stevenson and Gumpert (1985, pp. 85-94).

French economist Say, around 1800 stated that the entrepreneur “…shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield” (Dracker, 1985, p. 21). However, starting a new venture does not necessarily constitute entrepreneurship, and is not limited to new and or small businesses. Dracker (1985, p. 22) advises that entrepreneurship is indeed being practiced by all sizes of companies and corporations, and said activity represents the creation of something new, or different, and or the change / transmutation of value.

As such, Dracker (1985, pp. 21) cites McDonald’s, which is an example of entrepreneurship. And while its product did not represent anything new, the management concepts, techniques, standardization of the product, the process of designing systems and tools, the understanding of the work that needed to be done, and devising working and training techniques to transmit this to others is what defines it as being entrepreneurial (Dracker, 1985, p.21).

He also uses General Electric as an example in that the company’s“… long history of starting new entrepreneurial businesses from scratch, and raising them into sizable industries” is another example of this process (Dracker, 1985, p. 23), as well as Marks and Spencer of the United Kingdom.

Sheller (2006) advises that “Entrepreneurship is a delicate organism”, continuing that “It needs the right environment to flourish”. Welsh (2003, p. 4) elaborates on Sheller’s (2006) view by stating:

1. Entrepreneurship flourishes in communities where resources are mobile,
2. Entrepreneurship is greater when successful members of a community reinvest excess capital in the projects of other community members,
3. Entrepreneurship flourishes in communities in which the success of other community members is celebrated rather than derided, and
4. Entrepreneurship is greater in communities that see change as positive rather than negative.”

Given the risk taking nature of entrepreneurs, an examination of the context of this word is deemed as an important consideration before delving into the examination of the attitudes to risk and entrepreneurship. Inherent in the analysis of an entrepreneurial environment is risk, but, as stated by Culp (2001. 3) “Risk is everywhere”. Burt (2001) advises that “risk is the probability that an event will occur” and is “… often used to express the probability that particular outcome will happen following a particular exposure” and also denotes the probability, or possibility of a loss. However, there are differing views and attitudes regarding risk, just as there are regarding entrepreneurship. These facets shall be examined herein, equating the various attitudes and approaches to these two areas.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Implicit in understanding the context of attitudes to risk and entrepreneurship, are the words that constitute this examination. The simplistic nature of the statement belies the striations inherent in the different contexts. Follendore (2002) in commenting on that fact that words carry meaning, also states that words also can limit potential meanings. As shown by the preceding brief exploration of entrepreneurship and risk, these words have a broader dimension that one usually associates with them in general conversation, and or use.

Termed linguistics, the meaning of words represents the context in which they are used in combination with other words and permits us to communicate with one another (Hill, 1969, p. 3). The character of the word stock of English has its roots in the Germanic tribes of the preromantic era and consists of French, Italian and other languages that have been incorporated into the body of words utilized by English speakers (Leith, 1997, p. 62).

The foregoing is important in understanding that the word dictionary is 1. “A reference book containing an alphabetical list of words, with information given for each word …” that 3. Lists “…words or other linguistics items in a particular category …” (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Its etymology stems from Medieval Latin dictinrium, and from Latin diction, which is a derivative of diction (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).

The weakness of the English language lies in its lexical ambiguity. Lin and Ahrens (2001) provide a further understanding of the importance of words that in most instances have multiple meanings, thus the phrase lexical ambiguity. They go on to add that “… multiple meanings associated with … (words) … can be etymologically associated…” The words utilized in the title of this examination fall into the category of words that have “… greater number of meanings …” thus they are “… recognized faster than words with few meanings” (Lin and Ahrens, 2001).

Dictionary meanings, as stated by Lin and Ahrens (2001) are the form that is usually preferred by researchers as a result of their having standardized meanings “… comprehensive, and easy to obtain”. However, semantically speaking, the meaning of the words attitudes, risk and entrepreneurship change depending upon the context, thus variables are added as a result of using these words in combination, further compounding the equation. As borne out by the limited exploration of meanings for entrepreurship and risk. Thus in exploring the attitudes to the preceding, this examination shall explore these combinations and seek to find common linkages to result in an understanding of the foregoing.

Chapter 2 – Attitude

The context of this examination, which represents an exploration into the ‘Attitudes to risk and entrepreneurship’, embodies looking at the relationships of these words to define the phrase and bring out its meanings. It is the context in which these words reside, as well as the implications thus resulting, represent the underlying precepts that provide for a broad field of interpretations and thus variants.

In beginning with the word ‘attitudes’, Houghton Mifflin (2007) defines its “1. A position of the body or manner of carrying oneself, 2. a. Astute of mind or a feeling; disposition, 2. b. An arrogant or hostile state of mind or disposition, 3. The orientation of an air or spacecraft relative to a reference …” Its etymology is French, from the Italian word ‘attitudinal, which was adopted from late Latin‘aptitd’ (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).

Schneider (2006) advises that the word ‘attitudes’ consists of two components. One represents belief, and the other represents feeling (Schneider, 2006). Beliefs are a mental concept association that are usually “… associated with an identity … and as Dr. Schneider (2006) states, “… are often stereotypical”. He continues that these stereotypical beliefs are usually stemmed in the “… socio demographic differences of a person … (as well as their) … personal experience”.

Thus, based upon the context as well as usage, ‘attitudes’ brings with it the usage context as formulated within an individual’s historical framework as well. These historical preconceptions, however slight, represent influencing factors acting upon the individual as they mentally traverse through their personal feelings, and beliefs regarding the word sets that follow, thus triggering other memory concepts, feelings and beliefs. Schneider (2006), refers to Sheriff in discussing ‘norm formation which represents the prevailing understanding(s) associated with a particular word in contemporary common usage.

We as individuals have grown through experiences, associations, and circumstances in our environments as impacted upon by family, friends, acquaintances, and our abilities to cope, to develop personalities as well as thinking patterns that are the outgrowth of these variables.

We see the environment, filter out what isn’t relevant, evaluate what remains, then process this information through our individual self-images “… and / or sets of expectations, and /or personal characteristics, motivational factors and life experiences …and then we respond with either “… reflective or spontaneous behaviour…” (Rice University, 2003). The preceding would appear in a diagram as follows:

Figure 1 – Individual Environmental Perceptions
(Rice University, 2003)

The next step in the process is the examination of individualbehavior in the context of two individuals as an interaction. Such can consist of one of three types of interactions, as represented by superior to subordinate, leader to peers, and leader to boss (Rice University, 2003).

The importance of these distinctions is that such interactions often tend to influence, impact, change, and or colour person’s perceptions, and or processing thus causing them to arrive at differing conceptualizations.
Figure 2 – Individual Environmental Perceptions in a Two Party Relationship
(Rice University, 2003)

Under Figure 2, it illustrates the interactive effects of environmental perceptions in a two-party relationship, and how the images of Individual A can impact upon the perceptions of Individual B.

Another facet of how external influences can impact upon an individual’s thinking has been put forward by Janis (1972, pp. 15-30) who states that groupthink is the psychological drive for consensus at any costs which suppresses disagreement, and thus prevents the appraisal of potential alternatives in decision making groups. Thus, an individual in a bank will have a completely different set of mental references that will occur when he or she hears the word risk, than will an entrepreneur.

In a limited and distant way, the preceding represents a variant of groupthink, or the thinking adopted by an individual as represented by being part of a group or enterprise. The symptoms can be mild to strong based upon the degree of adaptation, position and or other factors, and can fall into any of the following categorizations (Janis, 1972, pp. 174-195, 242-258):

1. Negative Outcomes
- The examination of only a few alternatives,
- Not being critical of the ideas of others,
- Failure to examine alternatives early,
- Failure to seek expert opinion,
- Being very selective in terms of gathering information,
- Failure to have contingency plans,

2. Symptoms
- An illusion of invulnerability,
- The rationalization of poor decisions,
- A belief in the morality of the group,
- The sharing of stereotypes that guide the decision process,
- The exercising of direct pressure on others,
- Failure to express true feelings,
- The maintenance of the illusion of unanimity,
- The use of what are termed mind guards to protect others in the group from receiving or evaluating negative information

3. Solutions
- The utilization of a policy forming group that thus reports to a larger group, thus forcing or bringing wider thinking latitudes into the equation,
- Having the leaders remain impartial,
- The utilization of differing policy groups to accomplish different tasks,
- The division of individuals into groups and then a discussion on differences to open up potential alternatives and additional thinking,
- Having discussions in sub groups that report back,
- The utilization of a Devil’s advocate to call into question all of the ideas raised by the group,
- Holding second meetings to provide another opportunity for other courses of action

The idea of the preceding is to help minimize preconceived notions, ideas, and approaches to open them up to a broader field of discussion, ideas, alternatives, and possibilities. The foregoing is applied in individual situations by the individual taking the time for reflective thinking away for the instant pressures of now or of another’s influence.

Chapter 3 - Risk

The Houghton Mifflin (2007) dictionary defines risk as “ 1. The possibility of suffering harm or loss; danger, 2. A factor, thing, element, or course involving uncertain danger; a hazard …”. It, risk, represents a concept that carries with it the potential for a negative outcome or less that desired outcome that can potentially arise from a specific, desired or combination of actions in the present or sometime in the future (Douglas, 1992, pp. 102-105). Viscose (1998, p. 5)advises that “Individual risk perceptions are often in error …”,explaining that “… people make mistakes with respect to how they perceive risk and behave in the presence of uncertainty”. Douglas(1992, p. 102) states that it has been a long held belief that individuals are risk averse, which is based upon “… the theory of rationale choice … (that) … assumes that the individual will always choose according to his own self-interest …” which are choices, thus a factor of rational behaviour. Adams (1995, p. 1) simplifies the understanding of risk by personalizing it in order for us to gain aclearer perspective.

He states that each and every one of us is “… a true risk expert …” in that “… we have been trained by practice and experience in the management of risk” (Adams, 1995, p. 1). Risk represents something that we as human being learn in infancy, starting with our trial and error processes representing learning how to crawl, walk, and then talk (Adams, 1995, p. 1).

He adds to Douglas’ (1992, p.102) statement that individuals are risk averse as he points out the example of that although we as child tend to act out of “… curiosity and a need for excitement … (we are ) … curbed by … “ our sense of danger (Adams, 1995, p. 1).

The importance of investigating the components and foundations of risk as a part of the equation of this examination is crucial to the examination of attitudes, risk and entrepreneurship in that one needs the foundation of the theories, and usages attributed to these words and concepts. Risk, as a function of perceived uncertainty and dangerous also subject to prevailing public views, experience factors and acceptance.

By any account, taking a flight in a piece of metal whose outer skin is thin, with the entire container flexing while one travels at speeds in excess of 400 km would not only sound risky to those born in ancient Rome, it would be viewed as insane. Thus risk is a changing variable based upon our degrees of exposure, the exposure of others, and its place in what we subscribe to as normal routines.

Risk taking for one used to making investments, such as a financier, stock trader or venture capitalist, whose circle of acquaintances, friends, upbringing, and experiences is less than it is for a doctor, lawyer, cab driver or railroad engineer, as they lack the exposure, and mental familiarity that underpins uncertainty, and how to deal with it. The foregoing represents the third of Starr’s (1969, pp. 1234) three laws describing behavioural phenomena “… 3. The acceptable level of risk is inversely related to the number of persons exposed to that risk”. The other two segments of this law are (1969, p. 1238):

- “1. The public is willing to accept voluntary risks about 1,000 times greater than involuntary risks.
- 2. The acceptability of risks appears to be roughly proportional to the third power of the benefits”

Starr’s (1969, p. 1238) three putative laws however have not gained wide spread acceptance with risk specialists on all grounds, however there are those who agree with his assertion that there is a relationship between risk acceptability ad benefits. Otway and Chen(1975, pp. 76-80) however found that through a replication of the analysis that the resulting data did not support Starr’s (1969, p.1238) assertion in qualitative formulations, and instead found that individuals were indeed willing to accept high involuntary risks with large benefits. Despite the findings of Otway and Chen (1975, pp.76-80) the jury is still out regarding Starr’s (1969, p. 1238) three putative laws. And while we have been discussing risk as on an individual basis, risk exists in all forms, thus the exploration of it in institutions also has relevance as it is still a human facet.

Culp (2001, p. 15) advises that we find it “… tempting to associate definition of risk with measures of risk, such as the variance of returns on some asset” or in order mathematical means. Culp (2001, p.15) asserts that risk can be shown through mathematical formulas to that”… make sense in illustrative purposes”, adding that “Risk is concept, not a particular statistical construct”. In further exploring risk, Culp (2001, p. 15) adds that attempting to glean an understanding of risk “… at the conceptual level …” is a daunting task.

He states that there is a tendency to use terms such as interest rate risk, maturity, accident, credit and so forth, which have their applications, and adds that the conceptualization of the “… definition of risk varies with the perspective” (Culp, 2001, p. 15). Thus, he offers perspectives on how risk can be defined, and the relationships between them.

Firstly, Culp (2001, p. 15) offers what he terms the “event-driven definition of risk” which works on the principle of “… the type of event that can result in a loss”, such as a flood or earthquake. The second type of risk Culp (2001, p. 16) defines is ‘market risk’ that“… arises from the event of a change in some market determined asset price, reference rate or index”. He explains that ‘delta represents the value that is the “exposure that deteriorates as a result of the price, or value of some risk factor changes”, with “‘gamma’ as the risk that delta will change when the value of an underlying risk factor changes “and ‘rho as the “risk that the interest rates used to discount future cash flows in present value calculations will change and impose unexpected losses on the firm (Culp, 2001, p. 17). Culp (2001, p. 18)defines ‘liquid risk’ as that which “occurs in the event that cash flows, and current balances are insufficient to cover cash outflow requirements”, and ‘credit risk’. The other types of risk Culp (2001,pp. 18-22) defines are ‘operational risk’, and ‘legal risk’, with other risks representing a broad array of items such as intellectual risk, customer loss risk, and supply chain risks as a few examples.

In equating risk with the subject of this examination, risk aversion represents the division of risk that is associated with individuals. Culp (2001, p. 34) refers to this as “…. the shape of a utility function dictating the degree to which an individual is risk-averse, risk-neutral, or risk-loving”. Barrett (1993, p. 2) states that inside of these risk categories is what he terms the ‘disaster threshold ‘whereby one engages in behaviour that includes risk only when it does not touch their threshold of misfortune beyond which they will not goes such would ”… be experienced as a disaster”. He adds that when individuals have a preference for “… risk-aversion … (it) … displaces the preference for rational decision making” (Barrett, 1993, p. 79).Under this type of thinking the rule is “… to take as few risks as incompatible with the perception of opportunities, and to expect corresponding attitude in others” (Barrett, 1993, p. 79).

Lane and Cheek (2000) conducted a study on risk-aversion examining the“… role of contingencies and experimental context in human decision-making”. They subjected twelve individuals to “… a series of conditions that provided response alternatives of a small, high-probability reinforce (non-risky alternative), or a larger, low probability reinforce (risky alternative)”. The range of therein forcer probabilities and amounts were utilized via a discrete trial design that had repeated trials conducted in multiple sessions.

In comparing the results with prior data it was found that the subjects in the study “… displayed a strong preference for the non-risky response alternative, even when doing so resulted in lost earnings” (Lane and Cheek, 2000). These results support decision, and risk models that emphasize the subjective as opposed to mathematically expected value of reinforces, and “… the data highlight the important role of reinforcement contingencies, and context in risk-taking behaviour” (Lane and Cheek, 2000).

Risk, as explained by Adams (1995), Viscose (1998),Douglas (1992), Starr (1969), and others is inherent in any choice that involves probabilistic outcomes. Lane and Cheek (2000) found that in“… contexts with two or more response alternatives, both the probability, and size of each alternative presumably influence decisions”.

Lawrence (1992) concurs with Lane and Cheek (2000) in that the choice of decision making that occurs under uncertainty usually includes options of selecting, and or choosing to use an informational system, and a set of probable messages that take in current decisions. Under this type of thinking the rule is “… to take as few risks as incompatible with the perception of opportunities, and to expect corresponding attitude in others” Barrett (1993, p. 79) whereby the taking of as few risks as possible is the preference in compatibility with opportunity perception, and the corresponding attitude of others. Hahnemann and Tversky (1979, pp. 341-350), Silberberg et al (1988, pp.187-195), and Slavic and Lichtenstein (1968, pp. 1-17) all conducted studies in risk aversion, and noted the tendency toward a mild approaching conditions as represented by gain versus no-gain.

Hahnemann andTversky (1979, pp. 341-350) found that under some conditions“…equivalent outcomes with real, and hypothetical outcomes, but results from other studies are not so straightforward, and suggest that there may be differences in subjects’ decision making when real payoff contingencies are implemented”. Slavic (1969) found “… when choices were hypothetical, subjects maximized gains and discounted the probability of loss, but were more risk averse under conditions in which they actually played out their choices”.

In equating risk as a variable of simply participating as opposed to gain and or loss Reuchlin and Frankel (1969, pp. 444-449) found that in the utilization of gambling situations that contained no payoffs, the individuals involved in the study were indifferent to the response they selected, but when the probabilities of winning, and losing were introduced whereby monetary gains, and or losses were involved, they were real sensitive to the choices made.

The understanding of why people make decisions in situations whereby an alternative is the better choice based upon some attributes of values and in others the alternative is better based upon some other attribute represents a problem of preferential choice, and judgment in psychology. Castellan (1993, p. 20) advises that in general, when people are “…faced with more complex decision problems involving many alternatives, people often adopt simplifying strategies that are much more selective in the use of information”. He continues that“…strategies adopted tend to be non-compensatory, in that excellent values on some attributes cannot compensate for poor values on other attributes” (Castellan, 1993, p. 20).

He elaborates on the foregoing by making reference to a number of job applicants with basically the same qualifications, however, the interviewer might decide that a published article background is a determining factor which he utilizes to aid in the decision process. The preceding represents a simplification strategy for getting through, and or making a decision, which is termed heuristics for choice, which can change based upon the conditions. Tversky ( 1972, pp. 281-299) referred to such a strategy as an elimination-by-aspects process.

Heuristics such as the equal weighting rule, majority of confirming dimensions, and lexicographic represent differing methods for simplifying processing in the making of choices(Castellan, 1993, p. 20). The preceding represents a factor of risk as individuals work through their own history and experience base as well as any applicable organizational or society rules in reaching a risk based decision.

The equal weighting strategy simplifies the decision making process by virtue of ignoring information concerning the relative importance of each attribute (Castellan, 1993, p. 21). In the confirming decisions heuristic, the general process entails the processing of pairs of alternatives whereby “…values for each of the two alternatives are compared on each attribute, and the alternative with a majority of winning (better) attribute values is retained ….” (Castellan, 1993, p.21).

In this manner “…processing is simplified by requiring only ordinal judgments of which alternative is better on an attribute, rather than assessments of the degree to which one alternative is better than the other … (thereby the) … process of pairwise comparison is repeated until all alternatives have been evaluated, and the final winning alternative identified” (Castellan, 1993, p. 21). In the final heuristic, lexicographic choice works by “…first determining the most important attribute, and then examining the values of all alternatives on that attribute. The alternative with the best value on the most important attribute is selected” (Castellan, 1993, p. 21). In cases of ties, the second most important attribute is considered and the process repeated until the decision making tie is eliminated.

The foregoing are aspects in risk decision making that some individuals use in arriving at their choices, and are usually reserved for more long term risk analysis decision making such as investment, business decisions, long term purchases of higher monetary value and so forth. These types of risk taking processes are also associated with entrepreneurs.

Chapter 4 – Entrepreneurship

The Houghton Mifflin dictionary (2007) defines entrepreneur as “Adperson who organizes, operates and assumes the risk for a business venture”. An entrepreneur represents an individual who is usually of high aptitude, who possesses certain characteristics that are found in only a small portion of people in general, who pioneers change(Quick MBA, 2007).

The more popular definition that is thought of by society when this word is mentioned, is of a person who wants to work for themselves. The origin of entrepreneur is French, based on the word ‘entreprendre, which means ‘to undertake’.

Entrepreneurship represents the practice of beginning new companies, and or organizations as usually represented by a new business as a result of new opportunities that have, or are presenting themselves. Such naturally entails elements of risk. The equation of risk in entrepreneurship is represented by the spectre of failure, which can beat result of a multitude of business, supply, sales, market condition, financing, timing, competitive, new innovations, cost, locale, another problems that are all interweaved to result in a complex series of risks that must be examined, explored, decided upon, and dealt with correctly to minimize failure, which does not necessarily translate into success.

Stevenson (1983), as previously referred to, describes entrepreneurship represents “… the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources you currently control”, which he further amplifies with Gumpert (Stevenson and Gumpert, 1985, pp. 85-94) that entrepreneurship represents both the individual as well as the society that he or she is embedded in as he or she identifies an opportunity they desire to pursue and as an entrepreneur they thus must seek the resources from the broader society.

Given all of the research, and studies devoted to entrepreneurship no universal theory has been generated, as various disciplines have their “…own unique way of viewing entrepreneurship which remains relatively unaffected by the perspectives of other disciplines …”(Gartner, 2001). All of the foregoing have been engaged in as a part of the purpose of this study, which is to equate attitudes toward risk and entrepreneurship. The three critical words that comprise this examination have extremely broad interpretations as well as context that are dependent upon when, and how they are used. For Dracker (1985,p. 28) entrepreneurship is about risk.

But his view does not take the skew of said risk being negative or positive, but rather that risk is inherent with the concept as it, risk, is inherent with business in general, simply that entrepreneurial risk is a different form. Thus, the attitudes concerning risk and entrepreneurship are individual and dependent upon the prevailing social circle, or societal views that can take on any the differing contextual concepts of any of the words in arriving at a mental conceptualization of what these words mean in combination.

He describes entrepreneurship as “… ‘risky’ mainly because so few of the so-called entrepreneurs know what they are doing(Dracker, 1985, p. 29). And continues that they “… lack the methodology… (and) …violate elementary and well known rules (Dracker, 1985, p.29). Thus Dracker (1985) is seemingly saying that the high degree of complexity inherent in entrepreneurship, as either demands or requires an individual who is usually of high aptitude, who possess certain characteristics that are found in only a small portion of people in general, who pioneers change (, 2007).

The attention being devoted to an examination of entrepreurship is deemed as an important part of the risk attitude equation in that like risk, and attitude, it, entrepreurship, entails a large number of variants in how they are viewed contextually. Dracker (1985, p. 30) aids in providing clarity by advising that entrepreneurship requires innovation, as it “… is the specific instrument …” of the process. It represents the factor “…that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth …” (Dracker, 1985, p. 30). He explains that innovation“… creates a resource …” and that a resource represents something that has no value until a need, and use is found for it, and thus endows it with an economic value (Dracker, 1985, p. 30).

To illustrate, he points to various plants, rock, and minerals that went unused for centuries until a use were found for them. Owing to this view, Dracker (1985, p.33) advises that innovation represents an economic term, in this context, as opposed to a social or technical one. He adds that it, innovation, “…can be defined the way J. B. Say defined entrepreneurship, as changing the yield of resources ...” as well as being “… defined in demand terms rather than in supply terms, that is, as changing the value and satisfaction obtained from resources by the consumer …” (Dracker, 1985, p. 33).

Francis and Demirep (2006) address the issue of entrepreneurship in the context of “Wealth, Entrepreneurship and Occupational Experience “citing that as a factor of the probability of becoming an entrepreneur, one is likely to be male, a member of the Caucasian race, in the upper middle age bracket, and married. They cite that the theoretical aspects of the preceding profile represent facets such as risk aversion, along with entrepreneurial ability, as mentioned by Dracker (1985, p. 30) “…and the desire to be one’s own boss” (Francis and Demirep, 2006).Francis and Demirep’s (2006) study found that risk taking, and entrepreurship is a factor of prior risks, and experiences, as summarized below:

1. People aspiring to be entrepreneurs are not likely to be dissuaded as a result of having a lack of sufficient assets,
2. Assets, which are an important variable in entreprenurial activity, does not impact the decision to become an entrepreneur.
3. The desire for autonomy, along with risk taking behaviour as well as ability were important factors in the decision reached by individuals to become entrepreneurs.
4. In general, those people that became entrepreneurs had a history of poor wage / work experience which consisted of them having lower wages than they either felt they were capable of, or offered as well as them having longer periods between work, and a high frequency of job changes.

The foregoing indicates that risk is lessened as a person experiences more of it through frustration, periods of monetary uncertainty, and a lack of funds. The preceding support the views, and findings as made by Reuchlin and Frankel (1969, pp. 444-449) where they used the instance of a gambling situation to test risk aversion, and found that when situations contained no payoffs, the individuals involved in the study were indifferent to the response they selected in terms of risk.

The preceding seemingly corresponds to the findings of Francis and Demirep’s (2006) in that in the instance of low wage jobs, long unemployment spells, and or high job changes, the individual sees more risk in these types of situations than in one that they seemingly have more control. Culp (2001, p. 34) referred to this type of situation as risk aversion being a product of risk as associated with the person, which Barrett (1993, p. 2) explains as the ‘disaster threshold’ “…whereby one engages in behaviour that includes risk only when it does not touch their threshold of misfortune beyond which they will not go as such would ”… be experienced as a disaster.

Car land et al(2001) in their study of entrepreneurship, point to three characteristics they uncovered through research:

1. A propensity for risk taking
In reaching this conclusion, Car land et al (2001) point to an article by Palmer (1971, p. 78) who oberved that risk assessment, and risk taking represent primary entrepreneurial elements. However, this view is not universal, as Brockhaus (1980, pp. 509-520) in his research indicated that he could not find or correlate any significant additional risk taking on the part of entrepreneurs. However, there are others who see the situation in the same manner as Car land et al (2001) as well as Palmer (1971, p.78). The assertion that a higher propensity for risk taking, and risk assessment is present in entrepreneurs is shared by Sexton and Bowman(1986, pp. 40-57) which Car land et al (2001) cited, as well as McGrath al (1992, pp. 115-135).
2. Preference for Innovation
Timmons (1978, pp. 5-17), Brioches (1982) and Gartner (1990, pp.15-28) identify innovation as an important characteristics that entrepreuers have, and or cause, with creativity and innovation cited as inherent facets of being an entrepreneur. In the same view, Olsen(1985, pp. 25-31) credits invention as having a similar role as innovation in the role of entrepreneurship, which Car land et al (1984,pp. 354-359) in another article, indicate is a critical factor that marks a difference between managers and the owners of small businesses.
3. Achievement
Car land et al (2001) in citing work done by Horn day and Bunker (1970,pp. 47-54), DE Carlo and Lyons (1979, pp. 22-29) and Begley and Boyd(1986, pp. 99-108) indicate that research has shown there is a positive relationship between achievement as a motivational factor in entrepreneurship. Johnson (1990, pp. 39-54), as cited by Car land et al(2001) adds that in his research such a link, achievement, with respect to it being an important component of entrepreneurship was not established, however, he did add that achievement is a facet of the characteristics of entrepreneurs and suggested that more definitive work in this area was needed.

Car land et al (2001) referred to the Jackson Personality Inventory, a personality test that uncovers important personality as follows:

Figure 3 – Jackson Personality Inventory
(Sigma Assessment Systems, 2007)
Breath of Interest
Social ability
Social Confidence
Energy Level
Social Astuteness
Risk Taking
Traditional Values






Car land et al (2001) refer a sampling of 211 American owners of small businesses, and 424 Finnish small business owners, with the sampling characteristics and results shown on the following Tables:

Table 1 – Sample Demographics (Part 1)
(Car land, 2001)
(May not add to 100% due to missing responses)
American Finnish
Type of Business
Retail 38% 18%
Service 44% 44%
Wholesale 3% 4%
Construction 9% 15%
Manufacturing 4% 15%

Annual Sales
$100,000 or less 36% 34%
$100,000 to $250,000 19% 16%
$250,000 to $500,000 9% 14%
$1,000,000 and over 14% 15%

Number of Employees
10 or less 84% 78%
11 to 25 8% 10%
26 to 50 5% 2%
51 or more 2% 2%

Business Form
Proprietorship 51% 25%
Partnership 13% 38%
Corporation 36% 38%

Table 1 – Sample Demographics (Part 2 – continuation)
(Car land, 2001)
(May no add to 100% due to missing responses)
American Finnish
Age of Business
Over 10 years 54% 50%
5 to 10 years 38% 32%
1 to 4 years 4% 17%

Sex of Respondent
Male 68% 75%
Female 32% 25%

Age of Respondent
25 to 35 years 23% 15%
36 to 45 years 35% 29%
46 to 55 years 24% 41%
Over 55 years 13% 13%

Education of Respondent
12 years or less 33% 73%
12 to 15 years 27% 9%
16 years 23% 3%
More than 16 years 13% 9%

Table 2 – Study Results – Descriptive Statistics
CEI = Car land Entrepreneurship Index
INN = Jackson Preference for Innovation Score
ACH = Jackson Need for Achievement Score
Risk = Jacks Risk Taking Propensity Score
American Sample
Mean Score 20.5 12.3 13.7 9.5
Variance 30.1 7.7 19.1 27.0
Standard Deviation 5.5 2.8 4.4 5.2
Minimum Score 6 3 1 0
Maximum Score 35 16 20 19
Number of Cases 209 209 209 209

Finnish Sample
Mean Score 18.3 10.6 13.3 7.3
Variance 26.2 5.8 18.3 16.0
Standard Deviation 5.1 2.4 4.3 4.0
Minimum Score 4 4 1 0
Maximum Score 31 16 20 19
Number of Cases 434 434 434 434

Combined Sample
Mean Score 19.0 11.1 13.5 8.0
Variance 28.4 7.0 18.5 20.6
Standard Deviation 5.3 2.7 4.3 4.5
Minimum Score 4 3 1 0
Maximum Score 35 16 20 19
Number of Cases 643 643 643 643

The next Table represents an empirical analysis of the correlation between scores representing the four instruments utilized in the survey. It shows that the correlations achieved were high between the two samples:

Table 3 – Correlation Matrix
CEI = Car land Entrepreneurship Index
INN = Jackson Preference for Innovation Score
ACH = Jackson Need for Achievement Score
Risk = Jacks Risk Taking Propensity Score
American Sample
CEI 1.00
ACH 0.45 1.00
INN 0.55 0.45 1.00
RISK 0.58 0.28 0.55 1.00

Finnish Sample CEI ACH INN RISK
CEI 1.00
ACH 0.50 1.00
INN 0.54 0.44 1.00
RISK 0.60 0.40 0.51 1.00

Combined Sample CEI ACH INN RISK
CEI 1.00
ACH 0.51 1.00
INN 0.54 0.43 1.00
RISK 0.60 0.39 0.52 1.00

Table 4 indicates that the Americans generated scores that were significantly higher for Entrepreneurship Index, achievement and risk-taking propensity.

Table 4 – Analysis of Variance
Between American and Finnish Responses
Note: Dependent Variable: CEI, Car land Entrepreneurship Index Squared Multiple R: .04
Error Sum of Squares
17595.82 DF
641 Mean-Square
27.45 F-Ratio
24.23 P

Note: Dependent Variable: Need for Achievement Squared Multiple R: .09
Error Sum of Squares
4110.95 DF
641 Mean-Square
6.41 F-Ratio
64.42 P

Error Sum of Squares
11881.62 DF
641 Mean-Square
18.54 F-Ratio
0.86 P

Error Sum of Squares
12515.24 DF
641 Mean-Square
19.53 F-Ratio
35.17 P
T-Test Between Groups with Significant F-Ratios
The Car land Entrepreneurship Index
Finnish Mean
18.29 N
434 SD
5.12 T
4.80 P
The Jackson Need for Achievement Score
Finnish Mean
10.59 N
434 SD
2.40 T
7.63 P
The Jackson Risk Taking Propensity Score
Finnish Mean
7.33 N
434 SD
3.99 T
5.42 p

Table 5 indicates a strong relationship between the American and Finnish samplings regarding R2 scores representing 46% and 48%respectively.

Table 5 – Regression Analysis
American Sample
Note: Dependent Variable: CEI Squared Multiple R: .457
Ach Score
Innovation Score
Risk Taking Score Coefficient
0.408 Stud Error
0.065 Stud Coif of Tolerance
0.0 0.000
0.241 0.7985
0.228 0.6072
0.386 0.7005 T
6.281 P
Residual Sum of Squares
3398.838 DF
205 Mean-Square
16.580 F
57.483 P
Finnish Sample
Note: Dependent Variable: CEI Squared Multiple R: .475
Ach Score
Innovation Score
Risk Taking Score Coefficient
0.483 Stud Error
0.054 Stud Coif of Tolerance
0.0 0.0000
0.247 0.7650
0.236 0.6751
0.377 0.6993 T
9.025 P
Residual Sum of Squares
5948.049 DF
430 Mean-Square
13.833 F
129.88 P
Combined Sample
Note: Dependent Variable: CEI Squared Multiple R: .487
Ach Score
Innovation Score
Risk Taking Score Coefficient
0.453 Stud Error
0.040 Stud Coif of Tolerance
0.0 0.0000
0.260 0.7746
0.261 0.226 0.6733
0.262 0.385 0.6984 T
11.361 P
Residual Sum of Squares
9374.825 DF
639 Mean-Square
14.671 F
201.90 P

Table 6 represents a new regression analysis that utilises the combined scores illustrating the effect on the Car land Entrepreneurship Index was not distorted. R2 scores remain for the American, Finnish and Combined Sample at 46%, 47% and 48%, respectively.

Table 6 – Regression Analysis
Utilising a Combined Independent Variable
Note: Dependent Variable: CEI American Sample Squared Multiple R: .453
Combined Scores Coefficient
0.374 Stud Error
0.029 Stud Coif of Tolerance
0.0 0.0000
0.673 .100E+01 T
13.095 P
Residual Sum of Squares
3422.650 DF
207 Mean – Square
16.535 F
171.48 P

Note: Dependent Variable: CEI Finnish Sample Squared Multiple R: .467
Combined Scores Coefficient
0.406 Stud Error
0.021 Stud Coif of Tolerance
0.000 0.0000
0.683 .100E+01 T
19.439 P
Residual Sum of Squares
6047.639 DF
432 Mean – Square
13.999 F
377.89 P

Note: Dependent Variable: CEI Combined Sample Squared Multiple R: .479
Combined Scores Coefficient
0.399 Stud Error
0.016 Stud Coif of Tolerance
0.0 0.0000
0.692 .100E+01 T
24.271 P
Residual Sum of Squares
9515.952 DF
641 Mean – Square
14.845 F
589.07 P

It should be noted that the above study represents a sampling of small business owners in the United States and Finland which, mores for the United States, is out of skew with regard the total universe of small business owners. As such, the sampling size is subject to an error rate that exceeds 10%. Termed ‘random sampling’ , which is also known as probability sampling, the risk is that the sample size may not be large enough to adequately represent the population being tested as a whole (Deming, 1950, pp. 76-78).

In order to correct for sampling size a standard random sampling equation needs to be employed, which was not the case in the study indicated, thus the results could have been skewed by a few respondents (Deming, 1950, pp. 76-78). Allowing for this limitation of the study, it nevertheless does provide valuable information concerning:

1. A propensity for risk taking
2. Preference for innovation, and
3. Achievement

The study did show that Americans are more risk takers than their Finnish counterparts, with the Finnish just as strongly oriented toward innovation as Americans, with achievement not representing as strong motivational factor in the Finns (Car land, 2001). Risk, has many definitions, based upon the mode of reference that is being utilized to contextualise it. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (2007) states that risk can be effectively categorised into five definitions based upon their use across a broad range of disciplines:

1. Risk, as an unwanted event that may occur or may not occur,
2. Risk, as the cause and or contributor to an unwanted event that may occur or may not occur,
3. Risk, as the probability of an unwanted event may occur or may not occur,
4. Risk, as the statistical value expectation of an unwanted event that may occur or may not occur,
5. Risk, as a factor of a decision that is made under conditions that have known probabilities.

It is important not to confuse risk with uncertainty as they mean different things. Risk represents a strong objective component (truth),whereas uncertainty is subjective (belief) (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2007). An example of the foregoing are when one does not know if a snake is poisonous. That is uncertainty. In the field of risk sciences, there are objective and subjective risk (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2007). Objective risk refers to the frequent probability interpretation, with subjective risk representing more problematic aspect as it is more ambiguous ( of Philosophy, 2007)..

Chapter 5 – Survey

As part of the examination of attitudes to risk a primary survey was conducted utilizing the questions as indicated in Survey 1, which represents the same questionnaire given to students as well as employees, totalling 200 for each category, thus representing 400 in all. The purpose of the survey was a test to determine the risk attitudes of these groups.
Said survey generated the following responses for the indicated questions.

Table 7 – Primary Risk Attitude Survey of Students and Employees
(Part 1 of 3)
Age 20 to 30 31 to 40 41 to 50 51 to 66
Number in Group 58 56 49 17
Males 43 44 35 3
Females 15 12 14 14
White British 32 46 40 34
White Other 3 12 2 1
Black African 8 2 5 1
Black African 3
Black Caribbean 1
Black Other
Indian 5 2 1
Pakistani 1
Black British
Other 10 2 1
No Formal Qualifications 2
NVQ/City & Guilds 1 4 6 3
GNVQ 5 6 13 4
HNC/HND/SHNC/SHND 46 41 29 24
GCSE/O-Level/Scottish O grade 6 5 1 4
A-Level/Scottish Higher
Yes 17 20 11 10
No 41 36 38 27
Self Employed
Yes 11 13 12 8
No 11 15 13 12
Possibly 26 13 15 4
Don’t Know 6 3 2
Have already 4 12 8 13

Table 7 – Primary Risk Attitude Survey of Students and Employees
(Continued Part 2 of 3)
Age 20 to 30 31 to 40 41 to 50 51 to 66
Occupation Code
Have parents been self employed
Yes 43 31 30 16
No 15 25 19 21
Self-employed earnings
£ per week
£ per month
£ per year
Risk Attitude Questions
Accident/illness/medical policy
Yes 35 18 16 15
No 23 38 33 22
Yes 24 44 41 32
No 15 12 8 5
Travel insurance
Yes 16 6 5 7
No 41 50 44 30
Credit card interest
Yes 38 31 31 26
No 20 25 18 11
Stocks, share or unit trusts
Yes 46 47 31 24
No 12 9 18 13
Football pools or lottery
Yes 11 3 7 5
No 47 53 42 32
Personal savings account
Yes 53 52 46 36
No 5 4 3 1
Pedestrian crossings
Yes 39 35 20 19
No 19 21 29 18
Table 7 – Primary Risk Attitude Survey of Students and Employees
(Continued Part 3 of 3)
Age 20 to 30 31 to 40 41 to 50 51 to 66
Attitude to statements
Bank manager
Strongly Agree 5 7 5 2
Slightly Agree 12 3 3 6
Neither 8 8 7 5
Slightly Disagree 11 13 14 6
Strongly Disagree 22 24 20 18
Risk situations
Strongly Agree 20 11 12 6
Slightly Agree 18 26 14 14
Neither 7 8 11 6
Slightly Disagree 9 7 10 6
Strongly Disagree 4 4 2 5
Strongly Agree 5 7 10 4
Slightly Agree 13 14 13 8
Neither 9 6 6 2
Slightly Disagree 17 11 7 7
Strongly Disagree 14 18 13 16
Strongly Agree 6 6 5 3
Slightly Agree 14 15 7 4
Neither 10 8 7 10
Slightly Disagree 22 19 18 13
Strongly Disagree 6 8 12 7
£1,000 in 2005 scenario
Better 15 32 20 21
Worst 26 7 11 4
Same 17 17 18 12
Better 27 21 15 13
Worst 5 15 15 12
Same 26 20 20 12
Better 25 33 24 23
Worst 7 9 5 7
Same 26 14 20 7
Better 9 12 10 9
Worst 37 35 25 19
Same 12 9 14 9
Better 41 44 31 25
Worst 6 2 4 6
Same 11 10 14 6

The preceding Table 7, in three parts, shows a marked similarity across all questions regarding responses. Educationally, most respondents fell into the HNC/HND/SHNC/SHND category with most indicating that they are either not married or living with someone. Either being self-employed or thinking it might be an option in the future was indicated over the options of no, don’t know or have already showing at least an interesting this direction as a thought by the respondents.

In most instants, especially among the 20 to 30 age group, their parents had been self-employed, and this group showed less of a risk leaning regarding having an accident/illness or medical insurance policy, smoking, travel insurance, all practical and or common sense facets, but they exhibited more risky or progressive behaviour in stocks, but not football polls and the lottery.

All of the age groups scored high on having personal savings and indicate they would not have problems speaking to a bank manager about a loan as well as enjoying the risk of situations that many consider challenging along with not having a fear of being in debt and being able to handle uncertainty. The preceding shows consistency concerning confidence and a belief in themselves.

Chapter 6 – Conclusion

Attitudes toward risk and entrepreneurship, if one is to be or become an entrepreneur need to show some commonality with regard to managing risk through understanding it as an event or events that can happen at any time to anyone, anywhere (Culp, 2001, p. 3). The preceding entrepreneurial trait of understanding that they will be dealing with more risk than those that are employed seemingly indicates that “individual risk perceptions are often in error …”, explaining that “…people make mistakes with respect to how they perceive risk and behave in the presence of uncertainty” (Viscose, 1998, p. 5).

The preceding goes against the traits of the majority of the population that Douglas(1992, p. 102) states are risk averse as a result of the theory of rationale choice which is based upon the fact that when given, or they have the choice, people will act in their own self interests. Barrett(1993, p. 79) also agrees with the assertion of Douglas (1992, p. 102),as do Hahnemann and Tversky (1979, pp. 341-350), Silberberg et al (1988,pp. 187-195) and Slavic and Lichtenstein (1968, pp. 1-17). Culp (2001.p. 15) advises that risk is a concept that varies depending upon the perspective, consisting of:

- event driven risk,
- market risk,
- liquid risk,
- operational risk, and
- legal risk

Having a strong belief in one’s ability to manage, face and deal with various degrees and instances of risk on almost a daily basis is fact of life for entrepreneurs. Dracker (1985, p. 29) describes entrepreneurship as ‘risky’ in that few entrepreneurs know what they are doing as well as lacking the methodology, and well-rounded business, social and personal skills. And while tests to determine one’s entrepreneurial abilities are not conclusive, they do provide guide via which to make an assessment.

All of these tests indicate a number of commonalities:

Table 8 – Online Entrepreneurial Tests
Test Category
Self-starter Yes Yes Not indicated as a definitive category but is seemingly covered under leadership and high energy level
Feelings toward other people Yes Yes Not specifically indicated, however is a part of leading others
Ability to lead others Yes Yes Yes
Taking responsibility Yes Yes Yes
Good organizer Yes Yes Not categorised
Good Worker Yes Yes Not categorised
Good at making decisions Yes Yes Yes
People can trust what you say Yes Yes Not categorised
Get things done to the end Yes Yes Not categorised
Keeping records Yes Yes Yes

The study of entrepreurship conducted by Car land et al (2001) uncovered three main characteristics as a result of their research:

1. propensity for risk taking,
2. preference for innovation,
3. achievement.

Car land et al (2001) in their study, utilized the Jackson Personality Inventory which represents a personality test geared to uncovering important facets such as leadership, dependability, self-displace and whether one has the ability to make a good impression on others. In terms of entrepreneurial abilities and or traits, it lists:

1. analytical, which includes innovation
2. extroverted, which includes social confidence and scalability, which relates to leadership
3. emotional, which includes cooperativeness, a needed trait to get people to work, cooperate and see things your way
4. Opportunitistics, which includes risk taking, and
5. dependable, which includes organization and responsibility.

These aspects compare with the traits indicated on the online entrepreurial tests as well as traits and attributes as indicated by Culp (2001), Dracker (1985), Francis and Demirep (2006), McGrath et al(1992, pp. 115-135), Timmons (1978, pp. 5-17), Brioches (1982) and Gartner (1990, pp. 15-28). In their survey of American and Finnish small business owners found that Americans are more risk takers than their Finnish counterparts, with the Finnish just as strongly oriented toward innovation as Americans, with achievement not representing as strong a motivational factor in the Finns (Car land, 2001). The attitudes to risk and entrepreurship are based upon perspective, which the Car land (2001) study shows means conceptually the same thing across differing cultures.


1. Questionnaire on Risk Attitudes for Dissertation

I am currently a final year Economics student at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and am working on my dissertation to investigate the relationship between entrepreneurship and risk attitudes.

This questionnaire will take you approximately 2 minutes to fill in. The survey is mainly to find out risk attitudes of people from different background. The information collected will remain totally anonymous and confidential. Please fill in all the required details. Effort and time spent on completing it is greatly appreciated.

Basic Details (please tick the box where appropriate)

1. Age:

2. Are you: Male Female

3. What do you consider to be your race or cultural origin?

White British Black Other Black British
White Irish Indian Other
White Other Pakistani
Black African Bangladeshi
Black Caribbean Chinese

4. Please tick all the qualification that you have:

No formal qualifications GCSE/O-Level/Scottish O grade
NVQ/City & Guilds A-Level/Scottish Higher
GNVQ Degree

5. Subject of your degree: (if you have one)

6. Are you married or living with someone as ‘married’? Yes No

7. Do you think you will ever become self-employed in your career?

Yes No Possibly Don’t know Have already

8. Looking at the occupation codes (see back page) please indicate which category corresponds to your occupation.

Occupation Code: (2 digit code)

9. Have either of your parents ever been self-employed? Yes No

10. How much would you have to be sure of earning to induce you to become self-employed rather than employed? Please fill in one of the following:
£ per week or
£ per month or
£ per year

Risk Attitude Related Questions

1. Please tick Yes or No
Yes No
a) Do you have a personal accident/illness or medical insurance policy?
b) Do you smoke?
c) Do you usually take out travel insurance when you travel abroad?
d) Have you incurred interest charges on credit cards in the last year?

e) Have you ever bought any stocks, share or unit trusts?
f) Do you regularly do the football pools or the lottery?
g) Do you have a personal savings account?
h) Do you walk out of your way to cross roads at pedestrian crossings?

2. Please tick the boxes best describing your attitude to the statements.
Strongly Slightly Neither Slightly Strongly
Agree Agree Disagree Disagree
a) I would not feel comfortable speaking to a
bank manager about getting a business loan.
b) I enjoy the risk of situation that many consider
c) I am not scared of being in debt.
d) I’m not the sort of person who handles
uncertainty well.

3. Someone offers you a bet. You will win a net amount of £1,000 for probability 50% or end up losing the initial bet for 50%. Please tick the maximum amount that you are prepared to pay for this gamble.

Will not participate £200 £800
£50 £400 £1,000
£100 £600 £1,100

4. If you are given £1,000 in 2005 and five of your friends (A, B,C, D and E) are given the following amounts in 2006. How would you consider your situation compare to theirs? Are you better off, worse-off or the same?
Better Worse Same
A £1,050
B £1,100
C £1,000
D £1,200
E £ 950

This is the end of the questionnaire.

Thank you for your patience.

2. Questionnaire on Risk Attitudes for Dissertation

I am currently a final year Economics student at Royal Holloway and am working on my dissertation to investigate the relationship between entrepreneurship and risk attitudes.

This questionnaire will take you approximately 2 minutes to fill survey is mainly to find out risk attitudes of people from different background. The information collected will remain totally confidential and be only for academic purposes. Please fill in all the required details. Effort and time spent on completing it is greatly appreciated.

Basic Details (please tick the box where appropriate)

1. Age:

2. Are you: Male Female

3. What do you consider to be your race or cultural origin?

White British Black Other Black British
White Irish Indian Other
White Other Pakistani
Black African Bangladeshi
Black Caribbean Chinese

4. Please tick all the qualification(s) that you have:

No formal qualifications GCSE/O-L

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