Researchers say they have found “clear evidence for the existence of … engagement bias” in valuation professionals who were assigned randomly to perform valuation tasks on behalf of a buyer or a seller. The study has been published in the Journal of Behavioral Finance.
The researchers state that “valuators appear to be affected by their clients’ interests, such that they indicate that a valuation should be adjusted in accordance with their clients’ interests. Specifically, when they represent a buyer and therefore have an incentive to lower the value of the shares, they also indicate the valuation should be adjusted downwards more heavily and also indicate a lower value range for the true value of the company. The opposite is the case when they represented the seller.”
Also, the study found that experts exhibited a “blind spot” for their own potential bias: “Whereas 58.7% believed the valuator representing the opposing party was biased, only 25.1% believed they themselves were biased.”
The study’s authors are Marc J. R. Broekema, Niek Strohmaier, Jan A. A. Adriaanse, and Jean-Pierre I. van der Rest (all Leiden University). The paper is “Are Business Valuators Biased? A Psychological Perspective on the Causes of Valuation Disputes.” A full copy is available if you click here.
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