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Discovery and Creation: Alternative Theories of Entrepreneurial Action

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15603/1982-8756/roc.v3n6p123-152



Sharon A. Alvarez1 & Jay B. Barney1


Abstract: Do entrepreneurial opportunities exist, independent of the perceptions of entrepreneurs, just waiting to be discovered? Or, are these opportunities created by the actions of entrepreneurs? Two internally consistent theories of how entrepreneurial opportunities are formed—discovery theory and creation theory—are described. While it will always be possible to describe the formation of a particular opportunity as an example of a discovery or creation process, these two theories do have important implications for the effectiveness of a wide variety of entrepreneurial actions in different contexts. The implications of these theories for seven of these actions are described, along with a discussion of some of the broader theoretical implications of these two theories for the fields of entrepreneurship and strategic management.

Key words: entrepreneurship theory; opportunity creation;  opportunity discovery; uncertainty.


Resumo: As oportunidades empreendedoras existem independentemente das percepções dos empreendedores, esperando apenas para serem descobertas? Ou essas oportunidades são criadas pelas ações dos empreendedores? Duas teorias, internamente consistentes com as oportunidades empreendedoras, são: a da criação e a da descoberta – as quais serão descritas. Enquanto for sempre possível descrever a formação de uma oportunidade particular, como exemplo, de um processo da descoberta ou da criação de oportunidade, essas duas teorias terão implicações importantes para a eficácia de ampla variedade de ações empreendedoras em contextos diferentes. As implicações dessas teorias para sete dessas ações serão descritas, acompanhadas de discussão sobre algumas das implicações teóricas mais amplas para os campos do empreendimento e do gerenciamento estratégico.

Palavras-chave: teoria do empreendimento; criação da oportunidade; descoberta da oportunidade; incerteza


1 Fisher College of Business-Columbus, Ohio, E-mail: Alvarez_42@cob.osu.edu

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