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The Chimera of Entrepreneurial Opportunity

We examine recent literature on the concept of opportunity, notably Alvarez and Barney (2010) and Shane (2012). We consider the ongoing discourse about the nature of opportunities, including whether they are inherently objective or subjective, and whether there is clear and sufficient distinction between “discovery” and “creation” opportunities. Among our conclusions are that Alvarez and Barney do not make the case for distinct epistemologies for studying creation and discovery opportunities; they confound epistemology and metaphysics and they fail in their reasoning for the incommensurability of these two “theories”. Further, we argue that the discovery/creation dichotomy is based on a faulty reification of abstractions devised by Kirzner and Schumpeter to model market processes. The imprecision of the conceptual foundations for opportunity as an important construct in entrepreneurship research calls into question its value in fulfilling “the promise” identified by Shane and Venkataraman (2000).

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