Abstract

Opportunity identification has been recognized as a crucial first step in the entrepreneurial process. Before an entrepreneur can move towards exploiting an opportunity he or she must be alert to information that, when coherently tied together, suggest the existence of a new business opportunity. Consequently, understanding how and why certain individuals are more alert to the presence of entrepreneurial opportunities than others represents one of the core intellectual questions in the domain of entrepreneurship. Prior work in psychology indicates that performance of most tasks is a function of motivation and ability. Entrepreneurship scholars have made significant progress in extending our understanding of how certain entrepreneurs are more able to identify opportunities – identifying and exploring the underlying cognitive frameworks and processes that enable alertness. However, work focusing on the motivational antecedents to alertness has been sparse. This study explores how passion, a motivational construct of growing importance in the entrepreneurship literature, may help to drive entrepreneurial alertness. Utilizing social cognitive theory, we identify the mechanisms by which passion leads to higher levels of alertness. We hypothesize that entrepreneurial passion indirectly strengthens an entrepreneur’s alertness by nature of its positive relationship with proaction, creativity, and learning goal orientation.

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