Exploring first-time nascent entrepreneurs’ on-going entrepreneurial opportunity recognition : a case study of London Metropolitan University’s preincubator

Islam, Mohammad Saiful (2018) Exploring first-time nascent entrepreneurs’ on-going entrepreneurial opportunity recognition : a case study of London Metropolitan University’s preincubator. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Extant literature lacks the integrative theory of first-time (pure) nascent entrepreneurs’ ongoing opportunity recognition. There is an academic consensus that the investigation of ongoing opportunity recognition may provide new insights into entrepreneurs’ behaviours and cognitive processes, i.e. what they do and how they do it.

This study has responded to this knowledge gap by addressing the following research question: how do pre-incubator supported nascent entrepreneurs recognise entrepreneurial opportunities? The objectives of this study were:

(1) to explore the process by which they come up with opportunity ideas;
(2) to explore behavioural actions that shape opportunity ideas into opportunities;
(3) to understand the role of the pre-incubator on their cognitive and behavioural process; and
(4) to provide recommendations for effective opportunity-recognition practice.

A single qualitative case study was adopted for the study of 13 lead graduates who were supported through the pre-incubator’s business start-up programme. Data were collected through semi-structured interview, mind-mapping and participants observation, and analysed by adopting an inductive thematic analysis method.

Findings show that nascent entrepreneurs’ opportunity recognition comprises two discreet, interrelated components: opportunity awareness and opportunity search. Opportunity awareness is an intentional process by which they translate their experiential problems and perceived gaps into demand- or supply-driven opportunity ideas. It drives their opportunity search behaviour. They rely on various social networks to test the veracity of their opportunity ideas and search for opportunity-related information. They prioritise their social network reliance according to their social relationships. This behaviour is guided by their emotional attachment to opportunities. It is found that pre-incubator managers moderate their emotional attachment and subsequent search behaviours. As they (nascent entrepreneurs) rely on various social networks, their confirmation bias mediates opportunity recognition belief reinforcement and the input factors provided by social network members.

The findings are significant to pre-incubator managers. They provide revelatory insights into their supported nascent entrepreneurs’ emotions, behaviours, and cognition in relation to opportunity recognition. This study also makes noteworthy contributions to entrepreneurship literature by providing new theoretical insights into the opportunity recognition of first-time (pure) nascent entrepreneurs.

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