Abstract

Opportunity identification is considered to be the most distinctive and fundamental of entrepreneurial behaviors (Gaglio, 1997; Venkataraman, 1997, Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). Opportunity identification has been also assumed a cognitive task and cognitive explanations have often suggested that entrepreneurs operate a distinctive set of perceptual and information-processing skills (Gaglio & Katz, 2001).

Cognitive psychologists have identified three types of decision-making cognitions: analysis, quasi-rationality and heuristics. According to correspondence-accuracy principle (Hammond et al., 1987), in order for a decision to be adequate these cognitions would vary depending on the cognitive properties of the task. One of the most powerful moderators of a task’s cognitive properties is uncertainty. According to Sarasvathy et al. (2003), based on Knight (1921), opportunity identification process can be characterized by any level of uncertainty, starting from ultimate to moderate to low. Our study addresses the following research questions: a) whether different types of opportunity identification (Sarasvathy et al., 2003) would induce different cognitions; b) whether opportunity identification cognitions differ when used by expert entrepreneurs compared to novices, and c) if entrepreneurs use different cognitions depending on whether they were able or unable to identify opportunities.

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