"Been there, done that" - Exploring the influence of industry and functional work experience on opportunity recognition
Additional info: Paper presented at RENT XX - Research in entrepreneurship and small business conference. Brussels, Belgium.
The recognition of new venture opportunities has been acknowledged as one of the most important abilities of successful entrepreneurs. Explaining the recognition of new venture opportunities has thus become an important element of the scholarly study of entrepreneurship. Building on this stream of research, we present a study of the influence of prior industry and functional work experience on entrepreneurs’ ability to recognize new venture opportunities. As a theoretical point of departure we acknowledge two alternative lines of reasoning in the literature as explanations of opportunity recognition; the expert thesis and the intersectional thesis. Statistical analysis is made on a sample of 291 Swedish individuals with recent experience of starting up a new venture. In all, the overall results give ample support for the intersectional thesis. The findings suggest that entrepreneurs with experience across different industries and work functions have an enhanced ability to recognize new venture opportunities. On the other hand, we do not find any support for the expert thesis. The findings show no association between deeper experience within a particular industry or work function and generating more new venture opportunities. In addition, a more fine grained analysis of the type of business opportunity recognized reveal supporting evidence that experience across functional areas is positively associated with more innovative business opportunities.
- Business and Economics