Abstract

Opportunity identification is a core activity in entrepreneurship, but entrepreneurs vary in their ability to do so. Research suggests that entrepreneurs become more adept at identifying opportunities as they gain experience (Gruber et al., 2008, 2012; Ucbasaran et al., 2009), but we do not know how this occurs. In this paper we draw on Cognitive-Experiential Self-Theory (see Epstein, 2010) to argue that intuition is a key cognitive process that links experience to an enhanced ability for opportunity identification, and that intuition is most effective when used together with analysis in a versatile cognitive strategy – an approach characterised by high levels of both intuition and analysis, and an ability to switch between them as needed (see Hodgkinson & Clarke, 2007). Building on these arguments, we develop a model in which cognitive versatility mediates the relationship between experience and opportunity identification.

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