Without opportunity there is no entrepreneurship. The interest into the process of opportunity emergence and development is growing. This has resulted in thoughtful discussions about definitions of opportunity as a concept; the value of the opportunity concept to entrepreneurship research; as well as exploration of opportunity generation processes, opportunity evaluation processes, and opportunity exploitation processes. So far, few empirical studies have investigated entrepreneurial opportunities. This study adds empirical data by investigating the opportunity identification and development process in nine cases.

Entrepreneurial opportunities have been defined as situations in which new goods, services, raw materials, markets, and organizing methods can be introduced through the formation of new means, ends, or means-ends relationships. Opportunities vary largely in complexity and characteristics, and so do the processes through which they are identified. The literature has discussed at least two dimensions of such variations. First, opportunities may be of a Schumpeterian or Kirznerian type, related to the use of new versus differences in access to existing information respectively. Secondly, opportunities may be more or less pushed by alertness or deliberate search. Taking these two dimensions into account, this study develops a typology of the opportunity identification processes. Characteristics of different types of opportunity identification processes are identified using a broad empirical sample. Further, this paper explores how these characteristics vary and change throughout the process.