Abstract

There continues to be a fierce debate on the origination of opportunities. Opportunities, which we define here as competitive market imperfections that can be formed or exploited (Alvarez, Barney, & Anderson, 2013; Venkataraman, 1997), have traditionally been considered as objective phenomena that are “out there”, waiting to be discovered by alert entrepreneurs (e.g. Kirzner, 1973; Schumpeter, 1934; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000). However, more recently scholars have started to challenge this perspective by viewing opportunities as subjective, socially constructed entitities that do not exist until they are enacted (e.g. Baker & Nelson, 2005; Sarasvathy, 2001).

The debate on opportunity origination mainly stems from a philosophical conflict. Whereas the discovery school is rooted in critical realism, the creation school builds on evolutionary realism (Alvarez & Barney, 2007). We believe that there is an opportunity to bring both literatures together by looking at the debate trough a temporal lens. We build further on the idea that creation and discovery opportunities are temporally connected, with important consequences for how entrepreneurs deal with the past, present and future in the origination of opportunities (Garud & Giuliani, 2013; Zahra, 2008).

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