Small Business Economics

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 447–465 | Cite as

Reference point formation and new venture creation

  • Andreas Hack
  • Frauke von Bieberstein
  • Nils D. Kraiczy


In this study, we introduce reference point formation as an important antecedent of new venture creation. Based on considerations from prospect theory, we hypothesize that individuals who generally and consistently set more aspiring reference points have a higher intention to form a new venture. Testing our hypothesis with entrepreneurs and managers, results show that entrepreneurs indeed set more aspiring reference points. Therefore, they might find themselves more often in a perceived loss situation which in turn increases their risk-taking behavior, following the predictions of prospect theory. In testing entrepreneurial intention of business graduate students, results are shown to be robust. We discuss theoretical and managerial implications of the findings and develop avenues for future research.


Entrepreneurial intention New venture creation Prospect theory Reference point 

JEL Classifications

L26 M13 D81 



We gratefully acknowledge support from the Volkswagen Foundation, Grant no. 85487.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Hack
    • 1
    • 2
  • Frauke von Bieberstein
    • 1
  • Nils D. Kraiczy
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Organization and Human Resource ManagementUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Witten Institute for Family BusinessWitten/Herdecke UniversityWittenGermany

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