Entrepreneurial Business and Society
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Entrepreneurial Business and Society

Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Friederike Welter, Robert Blackburn, Elisabet Ljunggren and Bjørn Willy Åmo

Entrepreneurial Business and Society summarizes contemporary research in the field of entrepreneurship and small business and explores the interplay between the entrepreneur, the entrepreneurial firm and society.
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Chapter 10: Grasping the entrepreneurial opportunity process with diaries

Frontiers in European Entrepreneurship Research

Leila Hurmerinta and Eriikka Paavilainen-Mäntymäki


In the entrepreneurship research tradition, many researchers have considered that the true nature of entrepreneurial behaviour is demonstrated in the process, where entrepreneurs search, identify, evaluate and capitalize on opportunities (e.g. Baron 2006; Brännback and Carsrud 2008; Chen et al. 2009; Kaish and Gilad 1991; Smith et al. 2009). This process, or chain of events, has yet to gather a consensus understanding within academia, and the variations in terminology and conceptualizations are manifold. For example, Baron and Ensley (2006) discuss pattern recognition in relation to opportunities; Casson and Wadeson (2007) treat different types of opportunity as different projects within the firm; Baum and Bird (2010) discuss creative, practical and analytical intelligence and opportunities; and Chen et al. (2009) discuss the creation, recognition and exploitation of opportunities. Moreover, studies on the topic have accumulated and continued to accumulate increasingly during recent years, but only a handful have tried to tackle opportunities from preliminary weak signals and inventive ideas to final materialization (e.g. Baron and Ensley 2006; Chen et al. 2009). Existing studies, both on the academic side and on the managerial side, address the topic either by focusing on a small cross-section of the entire process, such as the identification of an opportunity, or are conceptual papers looking to form some comprehension of the subject. In the existing studies, opportunities are often defined as something tangible or separable from the context, such as opening a niche market, inventing a new product, or the implementation of a new law.

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