Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

8-2014

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

College of Business

Committee Chair

Ahuja, Manju

Committee Member

Barone, Michael J.

Committee Member

Manikas, Andrew S.

Committee Member

Shepherd, Dean A.

Subject

Entrepreneurship--Psychological aspects; Businesspeople--Psychology; Opportunity

Abstract

Early entrepreneurial action focuses on opportunities and involves two distinct evaluative phases: (1) recognizing that something is an opportunity for somebody and (2) deciding whether or not one wants to pursue exploitation of a particular opportunity. Scholars primarily explain the first of these phases using individual differences. However, entrepreneurial action involves the nexus of opportunities and individuals. In my dissertation, I examine the independent effects of opportunity differences on opportunity recognition as well as the degree to which they are contingent on individual-level constructs. Specifically, I examine this phenomenon in the context of technology commercialization. I use analogical problem solving to explain how individuals develop perceptions about their certainty that a technology can: (1) be feasibly implemented to a market, and (2) actually solve a market’s problem. I predict that individuals will be more certain an idea is actually an opportunity when a technology and market share Superficial features (people, objects, materials), Structural relationships (technology capability resembles market’s latent demand) and Procedural details (original user interaction with technology resembles a new market’s user interaction with technology). To capture the essence of entrepreneurship’s opportunity-individual nexus, I theorize that the direct effects of Superficial, Structural and Procedural Similarities are contingent upon individual-level factors, such as Prior Knowledge and Global versus Local Precedence. The results of this dissertation provide evidence that the newly introduced opportunity difference, Procedural Similarity, does positively influence Opportunity Beliefs consistent with Structural Alignment Theory. I also find support for the prediction that the relationship between Procedural Similarity and Opportunity Beliefs is contingent upon individuals’ Global versus Local Precedence. A Global Precedence refers to a tendency to attend to configural aspects of information prior to individual pieces of information. A Local Precedence refers to a tendency to focus on details and individual pieces of information rather than focus on how many pieces of information combine to create a big picture. I find that the relationship between Procedural Similarity and Opportunity Beliefs is stronger for individuals who process information locally than it is for individuals who process information globally.

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