Abstract

Contemporary theoretical perspectives in entrepreneurship suggest an idealized linear model of successful entrepreneurship in which advantage goes to those who discover lucrative opportunities (Kirzner, 1997; Shane and Venkataraman, 2000), adopt consistent goals and strategies to exploit them (Wiklund & Shepherd, 2005), marshal appropriate high quality resources and deploy these resources in a capable and disruptive manner (Schumpeter, 1934) to earn monopoly rents. Increasingly, however, empirical research suggests that much entrepreneurial activity and even successful entrepreneurship sometimes violate multiple aspects of this model (Carter, Gartner & Reynolds, 1996; Alvarez & Barney, 2006; Lichtenstein, et al., 2007). Against this backdrop, scholars have proposed several theoretical perspectives – including bricolage (Garud & Karnoe, 2003; Baker & Nelson, 2005), effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001; Wiltbank et al., 2006) and improvisation (Miner, et al., 2001; Crossan et al., 2005) – that are useful in making sense of these discordant patterns. Despite several common themes and family resemblances among these perspectives, little work has clarified important distinctions among them or attempted an integrative framework. Both tasks are necessary in order to make progress toward an alternative theory of entrepreneurial success.

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