Steyaert 02 chap 5 9/5/03 15:37 Page 103 7. The language of opportunity1 William B. Gartner, Nancy M. Carter and Gerald E. Hills ‘To imagine a language is to imagine a form of life.’ Wittgenstein INTRODUCTION What do we talk about when we talk about opportunity? Our purpose in presenting a paper on opportunity at the Movements of Entrepreneurship workshop, knowing that there would be subsequent debate, discussion and dialogue and the time to undertake a revision of the paper (presented here), was to attempt to thoughtfully provoke a patient, intellectual ‘pause’ in what seems to be a movement to embrace the word ‘opportunity’ as a critical attribute of entrepreneurship. The advantage of the Movements workshop process has been the serendipity that has occurred between the initial inception of the paper and the product you see here. This chapter is the outcome of many different ideas and individuals that have met at this particular intellectual juncture (as will be noted later). Do not expect to find us at this place, again, in subsequent work on this topic. We can see many different pathways ahead, and we are likely to take a number of diverse directions in our exploration of opportunity as a topic of study. There appears to be a bandwagon (Abrahamson, 1996) in the entrepreneurship literature for positing ‘opportunity’ as a fundamental aspect of the phenomenon of entrepreneurship (Gaglio, 1997; Kirzner, 1997; Venkataraman, 1997; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000; Gaglio and Katz, 2001). This heightened interest in the idea...
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