Entrepreneurial strategic thinking in the context of uncertain decision-making environments : a cognitive perspective of opportunity recognition

Ramluckan, Sandheep (2017-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : When faced with a potential opportunity for a new venture, an entrepreneur has to decide whether to pursue or not pursue that opportunity. Such a decision is very often made in the context of unknown or unknowable knowledge and a great deal of uncertainty. How entrepreneurs deal with uncertainty and make decisions about a business opportunity in the context of uncertainty was the focus of this exploratory study. Because there are many different aspects of opportunity recognition, the researcher examined and compared the decision-making of expert and novice entrepreneurs relative to the supply and demand factors associated with an entrepreneurial opportunity. The approach of this research was to develop a comprehensive theory on opportunity recognition by addressing the perceptions as well as the antecedents and components of an opportunity. Theory development is supported by the empirical findings of the current study as well as by literature on entrepreneurial decision-making and cognitions. The findings indicate that novice entrepreneurs seek to develop new or novel products to cater for existing markets, while expert entrepreneurs seek to replicate existing products in new markets and they use their prior knowledge to assist them in navigating the potential challenges that a new market brings. Additionally, when comparing opportunity recognition of expert and novice entrepreneurs in terms of their supply-demand combinations, findings indicate that novice entrepreneurs’ opportunity recognition is supply-driven while expert entrepreneurs’ opportunity recognition is demand-driven. Finally, this research conceptually explored the role of the decision-making situations in the recognition of entrepreneurial opportunities. The research study offers a theoretical foundation for introducing the construct of entrepreneurial satisficing into the entrepreneurship domain.

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