Thinking About Entrepreneurial Decision Making: Review and Research Agenda

Dean A. Shepherd, Trenton A. Williams, Holger Patzelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

488 Citations (Scopus)


Judgment and decision-making research has a long tradition in management and represents a substantial stream of research in entrepreneurship. Despite numerous reviews of this topic in the organizational behavior, psychology, and marketing fields, this is the first review in the field of entrepreneurship. This absence of a review of entrepreneurial decision making is surprising given the extreme decision-making context faced by many entrepreneurs—such as high uncertainty, time pressure, emotionally charged, and consequential extremes—and the large number of studies in the literature (e.g., 602 articles in our initial screen and 156 articles in a refined search). In this review, we (1) inductively categorize the articles into decision-making topics arranged along the primary activities associated with entrepreneurship—opportunity assessment decisions, entrepreneurial entry decisions, decisions about exploiting opportunities, entrepreneurial exit decisions, heuristics and biases in the decision-making context, characteristics of the entrepreneurial decision maker, and environment as decision context; (2) analyze each context using a general decision-making framework; (3) review and integrate studies within and across decision-making activities; and (4) offer a comprehensive agenda for future research. We believe (hope) that this proposed review, integration, and research agenda will make a valuable contribution to management scholars interested in decision making and/or entrepreneurship.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Management
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)11-46
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • decisions under risk/uncertainty
  • entrepreneurship
  • literature review


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