Abstract

The aggregate level of entrepreneurial activity varies considerably between countries. Yet several studies show that these differences are persistent, indicating that the level of entrepreneurial activity may be a structural characteristic of a country (Acs, Arenius, Hay & Minniti, 2004). Assuming that entrepreneurial activities have the potential for improving the relative payoffs of those pursuing them and the productivity of society as a whole, it seems obvious that the forces of natural selection could have selected and retained them. However, most individuals never take steps towards self-employment and most of those who try, fail. We therefore pose the following question. Under which conditions would individual behaviors lead societies to display a relatively stable proportion of people who start businesses and people who do not? We address this issue from an evolutionary game theoretic perspective and argue that this framework suggests a new way of answering a question that still motivates entrepreneurial research, namely, whether entrepreneurs are different from other economic agents.

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