This paper investigates the effects of national culture on firm risk-taking, using a comprehensive dataset covering 50,000 firms in 400 industries in 51 countries. Risk-taking is found to be higher for domestic firms in countries with low uncertainty aversion, low tolerance for hierarchical relationships, and high individualism. Domestic firms in such countries tend to take substantially more risk in industries which are more informationally opaque (e.g. finance, mining, IT). Risk-taking by foreign firms is best explained by the cultural norms of their country of origin. These cultural norms do not proxy for legal constraints, insurance safety nets, or economic development.
Understanding whether nationalculture affects a society’s likelihood to generate risk-seeking firms is important for effective policy-making and for improving corporate governance. It can enrich discussions on government policies that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. A grasp of the impact of cultural influences on corporate risk-taking would allow policy-makers to better customize their policies for firms with different risk appetites, thus promoting more competitive business environments. Understanding the impact of culture on