The good, the bad, and the talented: Entrepreneurial talent and selfish behavior

Utz Weitzel*, Diemo Urbig, Sameeksha Desai, Mark Sanders, Zoltan Acs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Talent allocation models assume that entrepreneurially talented people are selfish and thus allocate into unproductive or even destructive activities if these offer the highest private returns. This paper experimentally analyzes selfish preferences of the entrepreneurially talented. We find that making a distinction between creative talent and business talent explains systematic differences in selfish behavior. Generally, both the less business-talented and the more creative are more willing to forego private payoffs to avoid losses to others. A moderator analysis reveals that less creative individuals with business talent are significantly more selfish than all others, including the creative with business talent. This finding applies to both certain and risky payoffs with and without negative externalities. The paper makes a contribution to entrepreneurship research by qualifying the implications of talent allocation models and highlighting the importance of distinguishing between the two types of entrepreneurial talent. We also add to the field of experimental economics by advancing research on altruism under risk and with negative externalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-81
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Altruism
  • Benevolence
  • Creativity
  • Dictator game
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Experiment
  • Fairness
  • Inequity aversion
  • Selfishness
  • Talent


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