Susanne holds a masters and a doctorate in dentistry. She practiced dentistry in public dental offices in Lausanne, Switzerland. From 2000 to 2004, she managed the school dental clinics of the municipal government of Lausanne and obtained her part-time MBA at Webster University, Geneva. In 2004, she became self-employed when she took over an existing dental office in Lausanne. In 2011, she started her DBA and defended in 2014. She is an assistant professor at OKAN University, Istanbul, Turkey.
This study examines the risk taking behaviour of a particular group of SMEs, those established and run by liberal professionals in the field of health care. There is limited evidence on the economic behavior of liberal professionals despite the fact that they comprise a significant proportion of the SMEs in their national economies. The main objective of this research is therefore to extend the application of behavioral economics theory and models to explain the economic behaviour of liberal professionals.
In order to study this behaviour, I chose dentists to represent liberal professionals. I distributed a self-administered questionnaire to self-employed members of the Swiss Dental Association first online and later followed by a paper version by mail.
Dentists revealed risk-seeking behavior when they responded to a hypothetical lottery and an insurance question. When asked about their willingness to take risk in general, a large proportion came through as moderate risk seekers. The study identifies gender, “cultural” differences and type of ownership as factors that affect risk attitudes. Female dentists perceive themselves as more risk averse than males, but when actual risk preferences are measured this difference disappears. Dentists from the “Latin” region of Switzerland are more likely to real risk aversion in the domain of gains and losses than those in the German region. Sole owners are more likely to be risk seeking in the domain of losses than dentists in partnerships. Type of ownership is sensitive to gender and “cultural” differences. Partnerships are more common among females and dentists in the “Latin” region.
The findings of this study have implications for public policy makers, management training and development companies, insurance companies, and umbrella organisations for liberal professionals.