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Didier Chabaud M. Joseph NGIJOL

The seminal papers of Venkataraman (1997) and Shane & Venkataraman (2000) open a new way to analyze entrepreneurship, focusing around the question of opportunities. Nevertheless, although stimulating, these papers remain strongly influenced by an Austrian Economics point of view (Kirzner, 1973, 1979, 1997) and authors that follow this line adopt a positivist perspective: they argue that opportunities are “given” and it is up to the entrepreneur to discover an object which exists independently to him/her (Shane, 2003). In this view, the entrepreneurial process is seen as a sequence distinguishing between the discovery and the exploitation of the business opportunity (Davidsson, 2005, Shane, 2003). Nevertheless, a growing literature tends to argue that opportunities are no longer simply recognised by the entrepreneur as objects existing on an independent basis: opportunities are considered as the result of an emergent process initiated by the entrepreneur (Sarasvathy, 2001; Gartner, Carter and Hills, 2003). In other words, opportunities appear as the fruit of social construction. In a parallel way, Davidsson (2005) will emphasize that “the discovery and exploitation processes feed back on one another”. Building on Chiasson and Saunders (2005), we challenge these views by trying to show how a constructivist point of view enables to reconcile the different perspectives mentioned above, which enables to better understand the phenomenon. This permits us to propose a new conceptual framework opening to empirical research, and enabling to capitalize on the both lines of research.

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