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The effects of ambiguity on entrepreneurship

Claudio Bonilla () and Pablo A. Gutiérrez Cubillos

Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 2021, vol. 30, issue 1, 63-80

Abstract: We incorporate ambiguity (Knightian uncertainty) into a classic model of entrepreneurship to analyze, among other things, its effects on the optimal level of business startups, the relation between total assets and the size of the entrepreneurial investment, the effects of increasing ambiguity on developing new ventures, and the decision to self‐select into entrepreneurship for an indifferent decision maker. We first show that, under the monotone‐likelihood ratio property, the introduction of ambiguity negatively affects the optimal entrepreneurial investment, something that is consistent with most experimental evidence about entrepreneurial choice under ambiguity. Then, we show that the classical explanations for the positive correlation between total assets and business startups based on decreasing absolute risk aversion preferences and prudent behavior can be challenged when ambiguity is incorporated into the analysis, and we provide the conditions that guarantee that the traditional comparative static result under risk is replicated under ambiguity. We also show that increases in ambiguity aversion reduce entrepreneurial activities. Finally, we discuss our results under alternative ways of modeling ambiguity.

Date: 2021
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