Decision Making in Entrepreneurship
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Decision Making in Entrepreneurship

Selected Joint Papers of Dean A. Shepherd

Dean A. Shepherd

In this volume, Dean Shepherd focuses on the varying topics of entrepreneurship unified through conjoint analysis. Although the topic of entrepreneurial decision making is broad, in doing so, he reveals the mechanisms that come into play during the entrepreneurial decision-making process.
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Chapter 21: THE NATURE OF INFORMATION AND OVERCONFIDENCE ON VENTURE CAPITALISTS’ DECISION MAKING

Andrew L. Zacharakis and Dean A. Shepherd

Abstract

Venture capitalists (VCs) are considered experts in identifying high potential new ventures - gazelles. Thus, the VC decision process has received tremendous attention within the entrepreneurship literature. Yet, most studies on VC decision-making focus on which decision criteria are central to selecting gazelles. Although informative, the majority of these studies has neglected cognitive differences in how VCs make decisions. This is surprising considering the influence cognitive differences are likely to have on the exploitation of an opportunity as well as its influence on likely success. The current study investigates whether VCs are overconfident, as well as the factors surrounding the decision that lead to overconfidence. Overconfidence describes the tendency to overestimate the likely occurrence of a set of events. Overconfident people make probability judgments that are more extreme than they should, given the evidence and their knowledge. In the case of the new venture investment decision, overconfident VCs may overestimate the likelihood that a funded company will succeed. The results of the current study indicate that VCs are indeed overconfident (96% of the 51 participating VCs exhibited significant overconfidence) and that overconfidence negatively affects VC decision accuracy (the correlation between overconfidence and accuracy was 0.70). The level of overconfidence depended upon the amount of information, the type of information, and whether the VC strongly believes the venture will succeed or fail.

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