Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by J. Robert Mitchell, Ronald K. Mitchell and Brandon Randolph-Seng
Introduction: historical context, present trends and future directions in entrepreneurial cognition research
Entrepreneurial cognition has emerged as an important perspective in entrepreneurship (cf. Ireland and Webb, 2007; Mitchell et al., 2002, 2004, 2007) and has been defined as ‘the knowledge structures that people use to make assessments, judgments or decisions involving opportunity evaluation and venture creation and growth’ (Mitchell et al., 2002: 97). As research in the area of entrepreneurial cognition has developed, a central research question has emerged: ‘how do entrepreneurs think’ (Mitchell et al., 2007: 3). While the earlier approaches to entrepreneurial cognition were focused on the psychological processes that underlie behavior (Shaver and Scott, 1991), the area has broadened to focus on heuristic-based logic (e.g. Simon, Houghton and Aquino, 2000), perceptual processes (e.g. Gaglio and Katz, 2001), expertise (e.g. Mitchell, Smith, Seawright and Morse, 2000), and effectuation (e.g. Sarasvathy, 2001), among others. As Gregoire, Corbett and McMullen (2011) highlighted, however, despite the advances made, opportunities remain for developing the area.