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Cognitive Approaches to Entrepreneurship Research

ISBN: 978-0-76231-052-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-236-8

ISSN: 1074-7540

Publication date: 12 September 2003


Shane and Venkataraman (2000) suggest “the field [of entrepreneurship] involves the study of sources of opportunities; the processes of discovery, evaluation, and exploitation of opportunities; and the set of individuals who discover, evaluate, and exploit them” (p. 218). However, the study of the judgment required for opportunity evaluation has been greatly overshadowed by interest in opportunity recognition and to a lesser extent opportunity exploitation. This is surprising considering the number of economic theories of the entrepreneur that recognize sound judgment as a principal quality of entrepreneurship (Cantillon, 1755; Kirzner, 1973; Knight, 1921; Mises, 1949; Say, 1840; Schumpeter, 1934; Shackle, 1955). In fact, the first recognized theory of the entrepreneur defined the entrepreneur as someone who exercises business judgment in the face of uncertainty (Cantillon, 1755/1931, pp. 47–49). Similarly, Knight (1921, p. 271) suggests that the essence of entrepreneurship is judgment, born of uncertainty, and argues that it is this judgment that delineates the function of entrepreneur from that of manager. He goes on to point out that the function of manager does not in itself imply entrepreneurship but that a manager becomes an entrepreneur when he exercises judgment involving liability to error (Knight, 1921, p. 97). However, the judgment referred to by these theorists is not just any form of judgment, it is judgment exercised in the decision of whether to take action.


McMullen, J.S. and Shepherd, D.A. (2003), "EXTENDING THE THEORY OF THE ENTREPRENEUR USING A SIGNAL DETECTION FRAMEWORK", Katz, J.A. and Shepherd, D.A. (Ed.) Cognitive Approaches to Entrepreneurship Research (Advances in Entrepreneurship, Firm Emergence and Growth, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 139-180.



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