The prevailing theories of entrepreneurship have typically revolved around the ability of individuals to recognize opportunities and act on them by starting new ventures. This has generated a literature asking why entrepreneurial behavior varies across individuals with different characteristics, while implicitly holding the external context in which the individual finds oneself to be constant. Thus, where the opportunities come from, or the source of entrepreneurial opportunities, are also implicitly taken as given. By contrast, we provide a theory identifying at least one source of entrepreneurial opportunity – new knowledge and ideas that are not fully commercialized by the organization actually investing in the creation of that knowledge. The knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship holds individual characteristics as given, but lets the context vary. In particular, high knowledge contexts are found to generate more entrepreneurial opportunities, where the entrepreneur serves as a conduit for knowledge spillovers. By contrast, impoverished knowledge contexts are found to generate fewer entrepreneurial opportunities. By serving as a conduit for knowledge spillovers, entrepreneurship is the missing link between investments in new knowledge and economic growth. Thus, the knowledge spillover theory of entrepreneurship provides not just an explanation of why entrepreneurship has become more prevalent as the factor of knowledge has emerged as a crucial source for comparative advantage, but also why entrepreneurship plays a vital role in generating economic growth. Entrepreneurship is an important mechanism permeating the knowledge filter to facilitate the spillover of knowledge, and ultimately generating economic growth.
Audretsch, D.B., Keilbach, M. and Lehmann, E. (2005), "The Knowledge Spillover Theory of Entrepreneurship and Technological Diffusion", Libecap, G.D. (Ed.) University Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer (Advances in the Study of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Growth, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 69-91. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1048-4736(05)16003-2
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