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Entrepreneurial opportunities and the entrepreneurship nexus: A re-conceptualization
Abstract The literature on “entrepreneurial opportunities” has grown rapidly since the publication of Shane and Venkataraman (2000). By directing attention to the earliest stages of development of new economic activities and organizations, this marks sound redirection of entrepreneurship research. However, our review shows that theoretical and empirical progress has been limited on important aspects of the role of “opportunities” and their interaction with actors, i.e., the “nexus”. We argue that this is rooted in inherent and inescapable problems with the “opportunity” construct itself, when applied in the context of a prospective, micro-level (i.e., individual[s], venture, or individual–venture dyad) view of entrepreneurial processes. We therefore suggest a fundamental re-conceptualization using the constructs External Enablers, New Venture Ideas, and Opportunity Confidence to capture the many important ideas commonly discussed under the “opportunity” label. This re-conceptualization makes important distinctions where prior conceptions have been blurred: between explananda and explanantia; between actor and the entity acted upon; between external conditions and subjective perceptions, and between the contents and the favorability of the entity acted upon. These distinctions facilitate theoretical precision and can guide empirical investigation towards more fruitful designs.