Entrepreneurs’ Exploratory Perseverance in Learning Settings


  • Katrin Muehlfeld,

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    • Katrin Muehlfeld is full professor of Management, Organization Studies, and HRM at Trier University, Department of Business Administration, Universitätsring 15, 54286 Trier, Germany. She is also affiliated with Utrecht University School of Economics, Utrecht University, Kriekenpitplein 21-22, 3584EC Utrecht, the Netherlands.

  • Diemo Urbig,

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    • Diemo Urbig is assistant professor of entrepreneurship, innovation, and corporate change at the Schumpeter School of Business and Economics at University of Wuppertal, Gaußstraße 20, 42119 Wuppertal, Germany. He is a researcher at the Jackstädt Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research, Wuppertal.

  • Utz Weitzel

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    • Utz Weitzel is professor of Finance and Financial Markets at the Utrecht University School of Economics at Utrecht University, Kriekenpitplein 21-22, 3584EC Utrecht, the Netherlands. He also is professor of Experimental and Behavioral Finance at the Institute for Management Research at Radboud University, 6525GD Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

  • The authors acknowledge helpful comments from two anonymous referees, from the editor James Fiet, as well as from Arjen van Witteloostuijn and Toby Kretschmer. The authors particularly thank Codrin Kruijne for his help in the data collection and programming, as well as Antoine Bechara for providing normative sample data. Any remaining errors are our own. Katrin Muehlfeld and Diemo Urbig gratefully acknowledge financial support through the Antwerp Centre of Evolutionary Demography, which is financed by the Odysseus program of the Flemish Science Foundation (FWO). Diemo Urbig also acknowledges financial support from the Dr. Werner Jackstädt Foundation.


We introduce “exploratory perseverance” as a novel construct that captures perseverant behavior in settings in which several alternatives can be explored and evaluated. We suggest that entrepreneurs display exploratory perseverance reflected by a tendency to keep exploring broader sets of alternatives, to adopt a parallel rather than sequential approach to trial-and-error learning, and, after negative experiences with some alternatives, to be more inclined to give them a second chance. The results from an experimental study of 449 individuals participating in the Iowa Gambling Task indicate that more entrepreneurially experienced individuals display greater exploratory perseverance than those with little to no entrepreneurial experience.