Managerial risk taking is a critical aspect of strategic management. To improve competitive advantage and performance, managers need to take risks, often in an uncertain environment. Formal economic assumptions of risk taking suggest that if the expected values for two strategies are similar but one is a greater gamble (uncertain), managers will choose the strategy with a more certain outcome. Based on these assumptions, agency theory assumes that top managers should be compensated or monitored to achieve better outcomes. We review the theory and research on agency theory and managerial risk taking along with theories that challenge this basic assumption about risk taking: the behavioral theory of the firm, prospect theory, the behavioral agency model and the related socioemotional wealth perspective, and upper echelons theory. We contribute to the literature by reviewing and suggesting research opportunities within and across these theories to develop a comprehensive research agenda on managerial risk taking.
- agency theory
- behavioral theory of the firm
- decisions under risk/uncertainty
- macro topics
- top management teams/upper echelon