A General Theory of Entrepreneurship

A General Theory of Entrepreneurship

The Individual-Opportunity Nexus

New Horizons in Entrepreneurship series

Scott Shane

In the first exhaustive treatment of the field in 20 years, Scott Shane extends the analysis of entrepreneurship by offering an overarching conceptual framework that explains the different parts of the entrepreneurial process – the opportunities, the people who pursue them, the skills and strategies used to organize and exploit opportunities, and the environmental conditions favorable to them – in a coherent way.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Scott Shane

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship

Extract

A visitor from another planet who came to earth for the first time would think that entrepreneurship was one of the best-understood subjects examined by business school academics. Almost every explanation for business and, for that matter, capitalism itself, relies on entrepreneurship as a cornerstone. Moreover, huge numbers of people around the world engage in entrepreneurial activity. Estimates of the number of people in the United States who take part in founding a firm every year reach roughly one million people, or 4 per cent of the US labor force (Aldrich, 1999; Reynolds and White, 1997). This number is larger than the number of people having children or getting married in a given year (Reynolds, 1997). As a result, at any given point in time, business owners account for approximately 13 per cent of all non-agricultural employees, a fraction comparable to the percentage of the private sector labor force that is unionized (Hamilton, 2000). Furthermore, entrepreneurship contributes heavily to job growth, with new firm births estimated to account for one quarter of gross job growth in the United States (Reynolds and White, 1997). The level of interest in entrepreneurship among business school students is also extremely high. Every university campus, it seems, has a wealth of courses about how to start and finance new businesses. Most institutions, if not all, have business plan competitions that provide student and faculty entrepreneurs with prize money to start new companies that, everyone hopes, will revolutionize some industry and make all associated with it...