Abstract

The entrepreneurship literature has explored many aspects and phases of entrepreneurship, including pre-exploitation, exploitation and beyond (Shane & Venkataraman 2000, Shane 2000). Several studies have also examined how venture capitalists (VCs) evaluate potential opportunities for investment (Amit, Glosten & Muller 1989, MacMillan, Siegel & Narasimha 1985, Harvey & Lusch 1995, Shepherd 1999). Little is known, however, about the entrepreneur’s criteria for deciding whether to exploit a given opportunity (Choi & Shepherd 2004). The omission of entrepreneurial evaluation criteria from the literature suggests a prevailing assumption that discovery and evaluation of opportunities occur simultaneously. We suggest that discovery and evaluation represent distinct phases of pre-exploitation entrepreneurship (Bishop & Nixon 2006). Furthermore, exploring the criteria entrepreneurs use could help explain why and when some people and not others might choose to exploit an opportunity (Shane & Venkataraman 2000, Choi & Shepherd 2004). This leads us to pose the following research question: do entrepreneurs learn with experience to use evaluation criteria more like venture capitalists?

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