Chapter 6: Opportunity Recognition: Evolving Theoretical Perspectives
Robert A. Baron INTRODUCTION Ideas are the beginning of all achievement. (Bruce Lee) Every field has, at its core, a set of basic terms – concepts or ideas that play a central role in that field’s key activities and in its efforts to understand the phenomena on which it focuses. In physics, such terms include ‘matter’ and ‘energy’; in biology, ‘cell’ and ‘reproduction’; and in psychology, terms such as ‘stimulus’ and ‘behavior’ are fundamental. Entrepreneurship, as a field of scholarly activity (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000), is no exception to this basic rule, and among its central terms or concepts are ‘opportunity’ and ‘opportunity recognition’. The centrality of these terms is suggested by the quotation above – words to the effect that all human endeavors, including the formation of new business ventures, begin with ideas – cognitive activity in the minds of specific persons. It is also suggested by the considerably increased volume of research on these topics in recent years. That is a central assumption of the present discussion which, overall, seeks to accomplish two major tasks. First, basic definitions for these terms will be offered – definitions that closely reflect decades of careful thought by scholars in the field of entrepreneurship. Second, the remainder of the chapter will focus on providing an overview of the development of theoretical perspectives on opportunity recognition within the field of entrepreneurship. Reflecting changes in entrepreneurship itself, these frameworks have become increasingly sophisticated and comprehensive in nature, and the present chapter describes the course of such advances, as...
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