Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Risky Decision-making Essential To Entrepreneurialism, Scientists Conclude

Date:
November 14, 2008
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
Whether someone will become the next Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Henry Ford may be down to whether they make risky decisions, scientists have concluded.

Whether someone will become the next Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or Henry Ford may be down to whether they make risky decisions, scientists at the University of Cambridge have concluded.

Related Articles


The article, published in the journal Nature, asserts that entrepreneurs are riskier decision-makers than their managerial counterparts. Additionally, the type of decision-making essential to the entrepreneurial process may be possible to teach or enhanced in the future by pharmaceuticals.

Psychological and biomedical research has traditionally considered risk-taking as an abnormal expression of behaviour, as exemplified by its association with substance abuse and bipolar disorder. However, the Cambridge research, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, found that entrepreneurs represent an example of highly adaptive risk-taking behaviour which can result in positive outcomes during stressful economic circumstances. This 'functional impulsivity', the ability to make quick decisions under stress, may have evolutionary value as a means of seizing opportunities in a rapidly-changing environment.

Entrepreneurs choose to start their own business ventures rather than working within an existing company. Whilst there is a potential for considerable profit in making the decision to 'go out on their own', these individuals accept the accompanying risks (to finances, reputation, family stability and even self-esteem) as many new ventures fail. The scientists propose that it is these types of decisions which differentiate entrepreneurs from others.

To test their hypothesis, the scientists had 16 entrepreneurs from 'Silicon Fen' (the cluster of high-tech companies in and around Cambridge) and 17 managers complete a computerised neurocognitive assessment measuring various aspects of their decision-making abilities. On a decision-making task that required 'cold' processes, entrepreneurs and managers performed similarly. ('Cold' processes govern real-life decisions such as when planning the opening of a consulting company or hiring staff.)

The researchers then had the entrepreneurs and managers make 'hot' or risky decisions which involved evaluating rewarding versus punishing outcomes. (For example, the decision between financing one of several potentially excellent but risky business opportunities is a hot decision – it is too difficult for emotions not to play a role.) On this test, although entrepreneurs and managers both made good quality decisions, entrepreneurs were significantly riskier. Entrepreneurs also showed superior cognitive flexibility and higher ratings on questionnaires which measure impulsivity. These cognitive processes are intimately linked to brain neurochemistry, particularly to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Professor Barbara Sahakian, lead author of the study, said: "This study has shown that not all risk-taking is disadvantageous, particularly when combined with enhanced flexible problem solving. In fact, risky or 'hot' decision-making is an essential part of the entrepreneurial process and may be possible to teach, particularly in young adults where higher risk taking is likely and age-appropriate.

"Additionally, from previous studies we know that drugs can be used to manipulate dopamine levels, leading to changes in risky decision-making. Therefore, our findings also raise the question of whether one could enhance entrepreneurship pharmacologically."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. The innovative brain. Nature, 13 November 2008

Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Risky Decision-making Essential To Entrepreneurialism, Scientists Conclude." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112140401.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2008, November 14). Risky Decision-making Essential To Entrepreneurialism, Scientists Conclude. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112140401.htm
University of Cambridge. "Risky Decision-making Essential To Entrepreneurialism, Scientists Conclude." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112140401.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2015) Each week, millions of Americans take acetaminophen to dull minor aches and pains. Now researchers say it might blunt life&apos;s highs and lows, too. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins