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The Eureka Moment in Entrepreneurial Opportunity as an Imaginative Construct
  • David Leong
David Leong

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Entrepreneurial opportunity stimulates action. Does it only stimulate entrepreneurs to action? Or to non-entrepreneurs as well? What it is, and what it is not? Who is an entrepreneur? The concept of opportunity has been a bedrock in entrepreneurship research since Shane and Venkataraman’s seminal work in 2000. Researchers have explored the emergence, the role and the purpose of opportunity since then. Despite more than two decades of scholarship on the construct that has moved us well beyond what Shane and Venkataraman originally defined and with seminal papers that have moved us toward a better and more sophisticated understanding of the opportunity, we are still asking who an entrepreneur is? Ramoglou, Gartner and Tsang argue that this is the wrong question. The definitional varieties and fragments move Davidsson to suggest dismantling the construct and re-contextualising it with a more suitable and coherent framework. Foss and Klein suggest doing away with the opportunity concept altogether. This paper articulates that opportunity still provides a fundamental scaffold to organise entrepreneurial research. We propose that opportunity exists as an artificial imaginative construct in the minds of entrepreneurs. We argue that the concept of an imagined opportunity can overcome the fragmented definitions with an elasticity that can clarify and sharpen its utilitarian value. This paper aims to shift the dialogue on how opportunity emerges, exists and changes according to the information presented and subjectively interpreted through mental visualisation/imagination.
Published in SSRN Electronic Journal. 10.2139/ssrn.4111222