Document Type

Research Article


Purpose – There has been significant growth in entrepreneurship research over the past several decades. Yet with all of the knowledge gained and presumably improved training of would-be entrepreneurs, firm failure rates remain persistently high. It is argued here that the historical and continued research focus on successful entrepreneurs has limited the field. Entrepreneurs are often considered to possess uniquely positive capabilities relative to the general population; this paper explores the possibility that the majority of entrepreneurs suffer from overconfidence and that this leads most entrepreneurs to make “bad bets” that result in underperformance and firm failure. Design/methodology/approach – In this paper, a qualitative review of the literature was performed. Findings – Based on the literature review, three formal propositions are developed. The first two suggest that the majority of entrepreneurs are overconfident in their personal capabilities and the prospects for their new ventures. It is then proposed that this overconfidence leads to errors in judgment that results in financial underperformance and failure found among most new ventures. Originality/value – This paper makes an important contribution to the entrepreneurship literature by arguing that overconfidence negatively impacts pre-founding decision-making such that entrepreneurs pursue flawed opportunities. Studying the issues raised in this paper may spur new lines of research and knowledge that lead to better entrepreneurial outcomes.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.