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Entrepreneurial Opportunity: Bedrock in Entrepreneurship Research  

Matthew S. Wood

Entrepreneurial opportunity represents individuals taking action to introduce new products, services, or ways of organizing. The opportunity concept has interdisciplinary appeal and in the field of entrepreneurship it has been elevated to a defining feature, representing bedrock in entrepreneurship research. Hence, researchers have investigated the emergence and pursuit of opportunity and it has become a topic of lively debate, stemming from competing theoretical approaches designed to represent the phenomenon. Insights gleaned from these discussions and related empirical studies highlight the opportunity concept as a valuable umbrella construct that meaningfully integrates key elements of the entrepreneurial journey. It coherently ties, for example, cognitive attention and belief formation to entrepreneurial action in ways that account for the various elements that influence entrepreneurs’ contemplations of bringing forward something new. This is a generative process that encapsulates entrepreneurs initially coming up with opportunity ideas and then evaluating those ideas for viability. The beliefs generated in the evaluation of opportunity ideas drive entrepreneurial action. There are a host of elements that influence this process and by capturing them, researchers have codified entrepreneurial opportunity as a phenomenon that involves the integration of entrepreneurs’ motivations and goals with the ideas and concepts they generate, and the actions they deploy to bring their concepts to fruition. This understanding presents intriguing arenas for future research, such as work that takes an adaptive and multiple opportunity perspective along with studies that address time and timing as embedded in entrepreneurial opportunity.