Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research
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Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research

Edited by Hans Landström and Franz T. Lohrke

This book historicizes entrepreneurship research, its primary thesis being ‘history matters’. Expert contributors discuss the field’s long history and explore whether it has developed a mature and comprehensive knowledge base. The intellectual roots of several important theories are then examined in depth because, as entrepreneurship research has become more theory driven, and scholars have borrowed theories from many different fields, it becomes increasingly important to understand their origin. Finally, the book demonstrates how economic history research (for example, the historical and institutional context of entrepreneurial behaviour) can contribute to our understanding of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 6: Opportunity Recognition: Evolving Theoretical Perspectives

Robert A. Baron


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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