Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Entrepreneurship, PhD

Committee Chair

Garrett, Robert

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Fiet, James

Committee Member

Fiet, James

Committee Member

Barone, Michael

Committee Member

Shepherd, Dean

Author's Keywords

Opportunity evaluation; decision-making; corporate entrepreneurship; corporate venturing; independent entrepreneur


Opportunity evaluation is a critical step in the process of entrepreneurship and is the main precursor to entrepreneurial action. This is true for both corporate entrepreneurs and independent entrepreneurs. However, these two groups may evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities in different ways because they operate in different contexts and have different decision-making schemas. In my dissertation, I use an “entrepreneurial cognition” perspective to explore such differences. By using two major theoretical lenses – i.e. resource availability and tolerance for uncertainty – and employing a conjoint experimental design, I compare and contrast decision policies of corporate and independent entrepreneurs captured in real time. Also, with reference to social cognitive theory, I account for the effect of individual differences and environmental conditions on opportunity assessments. The findings of this dissertation shed light on differing cognitions of entrepreneurs in corporate and non-corporate contexts and explain their decision-making priorities and tradeoffs. Findings provide evidence that the four opportunity attributes studies – i.e. knowledge of customer demand, resource-relatedness, novelty, and entry scale – significantly affect willingness of entrepreneurs to pursue opportunities, but that the effect for all attributes is stronger among independent entrepreneurs. Findings of this study also demonstrate that gender, entrepreneurial experience, and entrepreneurial self-efficacy (as individual characteristics) and industry munificence (as an environmental factor) have significant impacts on opportunity assessments of corporate and independent entrepreneurs, but with varying levels. More detailed discussion of results and implications for research and practice are provided.