Johnson, Andrew (2020) The opportunity kaleidoscope. A conceptual framework for entrepreneurial opportunity recognition. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis explores entrepreneurial opportunity recognition from the perspectives of entrepreneurs in the context of their businesses. The overall aim is to identify key factors which influence opportunity recognition, and to document new insights on how the factors combine to manifest in an opportunity. The study consolidates the diverse and fragmented literature into twelve factors which have the potential to influence opportunity recognition, in context.

Through an interpretivist ontology, the core elements of interpretive biography and case study are applied in an approach described as ‘biographical case study’. A key aspect of this research is the focus on founding entrepreneurs as the units of analysis, and their ‘real world’ accounts in context. The entrepreneurs operate businesses across a range of products and services in the Yorkshire region and data is collected through unstructured, face to face interviews.

The study is informed by both structuration theory and critical realism as theoretical lenses to support the development of a conceptual framework which contributes to theorising entrepreneurial opportunity recognition. The framework is illustrated through the metaphor of an ‘entrepreneurial kaleidoscope’ which illustrates a series of dynamic interactions of multiple factors, including the entrepreneur and the prevailing context, at particular junctures in time and space.

Case study interviews reveal four key themes under which influencing factors are grouped. ‘Triggers’ provide the impetus for opportunity recognition and evidence the role of serendipity in opportunity recognition. Findings show that entrepreneurs apply their ‘learning and skills’ to navigate continual challenges, drawing on their ‘traits’ and ‘networks and relationships’ to access resources and make the most of the prevailing circumstances, the opportunities that emerge, and the opportunities that they identify.

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