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After the Venture: The Reproduction and Destruction of Entrepreneurial Opportunity

2017

William McKinley Matthew S Wood

Research summary The endogenous formation of entrepreneurial opportunity has become an important theoretical perspective. Research to date focuses on initial opportunity creation dynamics leading to venture formation. This excludes the ongoing enactment of opportunity that takes place after venture founding. We focus on this phenomenon, arguing that opportunities must be continually reproduced through maintenance of consensus among stakeholders about their viability. If consensus fails, the objectivity of the opportunity is ‘destroyed’ in a process we label ‘opportunity de-objectification.’ We identify predictors of opportunity de-objectification and summarize their effects in propositions suitable for future empirical testing. Implications for future theory and research are also discussed. Managerial summary Previous entrepreneurship research has focused attention on the process through which opportunity ideas become objectified and perceived as external facts by entrepreneurs and their stakeholders during venture formation. While such attention is critical, we argue that venture founding marks the beginning, rather than the end, of a dynamic process in which the fact-like status of opportunities is maintained. If stakeholder consensus about opportunity viability is disrupted, it raises questions about this factual status and opens up the possibility that the opportunity is a subjective cognition of the entrepreneur rather than an objective reality. We call this phenomenon ‘opportunity de-objectification,’ and we identify a number of factors that precipitate it. We also suggest that entrepreneurs may reduce the likelihood of this phenomenon by managing some of the factors that induce it. Copyright © 2016 Strategic Management Society.

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