Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Committee Chair

Dubofsky, David A.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Fiet, James O.

Committee Member

Fiet, James O.

Committee Member

Chao, Yong

Committee Member

Adelson, Jill L.


Entrepreneurship--Psychological aspects; Businesspeople--Psychology; Risk-taking (Psychology)


This research addresses the question of why some people become entrepreneurs whereas others do not. The debate has been going on for decades in entrepreneurship. In this dissertation, I address this question by decomposing it into two related questions. The first question is whether entrepreneurs make different decisions compared to non-entrepreneurs when they are facing the same opportunities under risk. The second question is whether these differences in decision-making (if any) are due to the natural proclivity of entrepreneurs themselves. To identify the differences of entrepreneurial decision-making between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, this study investigates the nexus between entrepreneurs and opportunities from both aspects simultaneously. From an entrepreneur’s aspect, based on dual-process theory, I examine how different styles of entrepreneurial thinking influence their decision-making. Considering an opportunity itself, based on prospect theory, I test how different types of opportunity framing influence entrepreneurial decision-making. The results indicate that entrepreneurs have lower evaluations than non-entrepreneurs do when they are facing the same opportunities under risk. The opportunities in a loss frame have higher evaluations than those in a gain frame. The evaluations are higher in System 2 thinking than in System 1 thinking. The findings suggest that entrepreneurs do make different decisions than non-entrepreneurs and that these differences are more likely due to the natural proclivities of at least some entrepreneurs. These findings provide new insights for the entrepreneurial decision-making literature and enlighten some promising future research.