Handbook of Entrepreneurial Cognition

Handbook of Entrepreneurial Cognition

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by J. Robert Mitchell, Ronald K. Mitchell and Brandon Randolph-Seng

Entrepreneurial cognition research is at a crossroads, where static views give way to dynamic approaches. This Handbook draws on a variety of perspectives from experts in the field of entrepreneurial cognition to highlight the key elements in a socially-situated view, where cognition is action-oriented embodied, socially-situated, and distributed. Readers seeking to better understand and/or participate in some of the most up-to-date approaches to entrepreneurial cognition research will find this Handbook to be an invaluable and time-saving companion in their research.

Introduction: historical context, present trends and future directions in entrepreneurial cognition research

Brandon Randolph-Seng, J. Robert Mitchell and Ronald K. Mitchell

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship


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.