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Title: The ABCs of entrepreneurial opportunity : approaches, behaviors and context
Author: Gamble, Edward N.
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2013
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Previous studies have identified entrepreneurial heterogeneity, for example, in terms of novice, serial and portfolio entrepreneurs. This study extends the notion of entrepreneur heterogeneity through an empirical investigation of three different, but related concepts: the approaches, behaviors and context of entrepreneurs. More specifically, this thesis investigates individual-level patterns and processes adjoining the recognition, evaluation and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities. The initial motivation for this thesis originates from the invitations, of leading academics, to advance the domain of entrepreneurship through an improved understanding of the opportunity nexus. The second motivation for this thesis stems from the reality that an improved understanding of early-stage venturing activities has significant consequence for the economic output of nations. The ultimate purpose of this thesis was to empirically test opportunity related hypotheses from the perspective of cognitive priorities and strategic logics. Two surveys were constructed, using these cognitive priorities and strategic logics, as a means of examining early-stage entrepreneurs within the opportunity nexus. Using these two primary survey instruments, data on 304 early-stage entrepreneurs were collected and analyzed. The findings of this thesis contribute to knowledge form a theoretical, empirical and methodological perspective. Theoretically, the thesis identifies certain cognitive priorities and strategic logics used by early-stage entrepreneurs that contribute to individual's desire to establish a new venture. Empirically. the thesis classifies opportunity approaches into three categories, based on discrete stages. Methodologically, the thesis demonstrates how to employ data drawn from virtual as well as real entrepreneurs. Overall, the evidence form the findings are suggestive of new ways to understand entrepreneurial opportunity and entrepreneurial heterogeneity. 2 Additionally, the results of this thesis have implications for policy makers. Firstly, careful and pragmatic steps should be taken to understand individual differences between entrepreneurs before implementing broad-based venture creation programs to assist entrepreneurs. Consequently, if economic stimulation via new business start-up is the objective of policy makers, then this thesis offers several suggestions when working with entrepreneurs: (1) the importance of understanding the perceptual expectations of the individual entrepreneur, (2) facilitating early and small venture successes, (3) improving information search behaviors, (4) practicing idea development and (5) instilling a sense of strategic flexibility. Secondly, the evidence provided in this thesis suggests that policy makers may want to take a measured approach when dealing with opportunity in the future. One suggestion would be to engage in further research by using the results of this thesis and pairing them with longitudinal, performance measurement outcomes. On the basis of the findings in this study, the following three research questions were answered: Can we empirically identify discrete individual-level approaches to opportunity? Can we empirically identify factors that are associated with entrepreneurs' desire to exploit opportunities? Are opportunity constructs contingent upon the type of new venture context? That said, an argument is made for continued studies in this area of entrepreneurial opportunity, resulting from these initial empirical investigations. Key Words: nascent entrepreneur heterogeneity, entrepreneurial opportunity, opportunity recognition, opportunity evaluation, opportunity exploitation, strategy, cognition, entrepreneurship, economic growth, new ventures
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available