Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Strategy

International Opportunity Recognition: An Overview

Academic journal article Journal of Small Business Strategy

International Opportunity Recognition: An Overview

Article excerpt


An increasing number of studies on entrepreneurial opportunities have emerged on the entrepreneurship landscape in recent decades (Busenitz, Plummer, Klotz, Shahzad, & Rhoads, 2014). According to the trend analysis of Busenitz et al. (2014), research on entrepreneurial opportunities will continue to increase, and will, therefore, become the most important topic in the field of entrepreneurship. Likewise, it has been observed that research on opportunity recognition has gained more attention in the past few years, as it has been perceived as a central element of the entrepreneurial process (Busenitz et al., 2014; George, Parida, Lahti, & Wincent, 2014; Kontinen & Ojala, 2011a; Harms, Schulz, Kraus, & Fink, 2009). Particularly, scholars have been driven by the question of when, how, and why some individuals can recognize opportunities - while others cannot. One way to answer this question is to examine the nexus between entrepreneurial opportunities and individuals or groups (Baron, 2004; Busenitz et al., 2014; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). Studies have shown that only a handful of people are able to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities because they have superior cognitive abilities and better access to information (Kirzner, 1973; Shane, 2003; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). In this context, influencing factors play a crucial role, as they affect the way that entrepreneurs discover and develop opportunities (Ardichvili & Cardozo, 2000; Ardichvili, Cardozo, & Ray, 2003). Hence, social capital, personality traits or cognition, environmental conditions, entrepreneurial alertness, systematic search, and prior knowledge are recognized as major factors which have an impact on the opportunity recognition process (Ardichvili et al., 2003; George et al., 2014; Shane, 2003).

Starting in 2006, the role of international opportunity recognition has become an emergent research stream in international entrepreneurship (Peiris, Akoorie, & Sinha, 2012). The increasing interest in this topic was most likely triggered by scholars who asked for further research (e.g., Dimitratos & Jones, 2005; Styles & Seymour, 2006; Zahra, Korri, & Yu, 2005) or by scholars who perceived that the notion of entrepreneurial opportunities had rarely been developed in their previous studies (e.g., Johanson & Vahlne, 2006). The work of Kontinen and Ojala (2011a) has laid an important foundation stone. Although their study delivers valuable insights into international opportunity recognition and the influencing factors network ties, prior knowledge, entrepreneurial alertness, and activeness (systematic search) further examinations are needed.

The research is structured as follow. The following section (literature review) focuses on the analysis of the entrepreneurial opportunities and, specifically, the opportunity recognition and the international opportunity recognition. In this sense, we analyze all the studies in this field by distinguishing between the qualitative and the quantitative approaches. In the final section, we finish with our conclusion.


The field of entrepreneurship is the study "of how, by whom, and with what effects opportunities to create future goods and services are discovered, evaluated, and exploited" (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000, p. 218; Venkataraman, 1997). Therefore, entrepreneurship contains the "processes of discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities; the individuals who discover, evaluate, and exploit them and the examination of sources of opportunities" (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000, p. 218). Given this definition, it can be stated that entrepreneurship consists of entrepreneurial opportunities and individuals who try to benefit from them (Oviatt & McDougall, 2005).

We recognized different types of entrepreneurs in the literature. For example, MacMillan (1986) differentiates between one-shot entrepreneur, drop-out entrepreneur, and business generator. …

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