Abstract

The impetus for this inquiry comes from increased attention to emergence in the entrepreneurship literature (Lichtenstein, et al., 2007) accompanied by the ontological turn in social theory. It is argued that assumptions regarding structure, agency and causality are under-determined in philosophical approaches such as positivism, interpretivism, social realism and social constructivism (e.g., McMullen and Shepherd, 2006). Specifically, the current dominant perspective in entrepreneurship views the opportunity as an ontologically stable, self-contained and decontextualized entity that is subject to the logic of determinism (an object-based understanding of causality) (Shane and Venkataraman, 2000). In this view transitions from one stage to the next have a distinct beginning- and end-point along a fixed trajectory in a means-ends framework (Casson, 1982) that evolves according to a pre-established final goal (causation) or emergent final goal (effectuation) (Sarasvathy, 2001).

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