Friedrich Hayek conjectured that the free enterprise system is the most effective in making discoveries, and Israel Kirzner refines the conjecture by saying that profit opportunities evoke entrepreneurial discovery. Demmert and Klein (2003) present the first attempt to demonstrate the Hayek/Kirzner conjecture. On the whole, Demmert and Klein (2003) classify the results as disappointing but fruitful. In contrast we argue that additional experimental evidence might yield a demonstration of the conjecture. We continued the diligence and good-faith effort started by Demmert and Klein (2003) to devise an experimental setting that would create a genuine context for entrepreneurial discovery, yet the conjecture eludes our efforts at controlling the experiment. We duplicated the experiment at a Business School in Germany, with two simple variations. First, Demmert and Klein (2003) recruited only male students. We include male and female students. Second, Demmert and Klein (2003) used a payment schedule that includes a flat rate for participation and additional earnings depending on the presented performance. We drop the flat rate and slightly reduce the earnings per unit outperformance. Our results show that overall money matters. Our results are rather like those of Demmert and Klein (2003) and do not seem to be influenced by a baseline payment. Moreover, there are gender specific divergences showing male students earning significant higher additional earnings than their female fellow students.
The Review of Austrian Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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