Marketing and Entrepreneurship: Research Ideas and Opportunities

By Gerald E. Hills | Go to book overview

6
Conceptualizing Entrepreneurial Opportunity Identification

Peder Smed Christensen, Ole Ohlenschlaeger Madsen, and Rein Peterson


INTRODUCTION

Opportunity identification is the starting point of new entrepreneurial activities. Surprisingly little entrepreneurship and marketing research has focused on this important stage. In the marketing literature, opportunity identification is usually presented either as a matter of environmental scanning techniques (e.g., Porter 1980) or creativity enhancing techniques (see Kotler 1980) like lateral thinking ( De Bono 1978). Admittedly, environmental scanning and creativity-enhancing techniques may play a very important role in improving the chances of identifying opportunities. But, they provide only an incomplete picture of the opportunity identification process.

It has been argued in the marketing literature that we do not really know how entrepreneurs identify opportunities ( Stasch 1990). Furthermore, the development of appropriate market research techniques has been rated as a priority research issue in entrepreneurship research by experts in the field ( Hills 1987).

We believe that both the marketing and entrepreneurship fields would benefit from more research on opportunity identification. In this chapter, we provide a conceptual framework for such research.

A number of propositions on entrepreneurial opportunity identification will be presented. Of particular interest in the entrepreneurial opportunity identification process will be the role of entrepreneurial behavior. We do not define entrepreneurship as a matter of inherited personality traits nor as small business ownership. Rather we see it as learned management behavior that is opportunity driven without regard for the resources currently controlled (see also Stevenson and Jarillo 1990). Specifically we define entrepreneurship as:

opportunity driven, with an ability to make rapid commitment to opportunities that arise in a multi-stage decision mode, often

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