Handbook of Research on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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Handbook of Research on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Edited by Elizabeth Chell and Mine Karataş-Özkan

This insightful Handbook focuses on behaviour, performance and relationships in small and entrepreneurial firms. It introduces a variety of contemporary topics, research methods and theoretical frameworks that will provide cutting edge analysis, stimulate thought, raise further questions and demonstrate the complexity of the rapidly-advancing field of entrepreneurship.
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Chapter 2: Notes towards a theory of entrepreneurial possibility

William B. Gartner


This chapter serves two purposes. First, it makes some tentative steps towards developing the idea of "possibility" as a fundamental characteristic of entrepreneurship. Second, it offers a reflexive discussion, by way of a series of disjointed "notes," of a history of how and why the idea of "possibility" became an idea the author felt worthy of attention. By offering a narrative on how the idea of "possibility" became possible (to the author), the chapter offers insights into how possibilities are generated and developed. The "possible" is the potential to become or do. The history of the idea of the "possible" is a bit squirrely, in that, suffice to say, if one begins with Hume (1739/1968: 32) "That whatever the mind clearly conceives, includes the idea of possible existence, or in other words, that nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible," the idea of the "possible" could be thought of as anything that we could conceive (Yablo, 1993). I would not go as far as that. I put the idea of the "possible" as an indeterminate place somewhere between what can be conceived and what is feasible or practical. I define the idea of feasibility or practicability being the ability to actually accomplish the particular potential imagined: The "possible," then, lies somewhere between the conceivable and the feasible. It should be noted that what is feasible or practical, is itself, indeterminate at the moment one sets out to accomplish a particular possibility.

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