Rule-Based Reasoning for Understanding Opportunity Evaluation

Much research on opportunity in entrepreneurship and related fields centers on the origin of opportunities and the actions individuals take to exploit opportunities. However, our understanding of how individuals evaluate opportunities remains fragmented, with research spanning fields of study and using different terminology for similar concepts. Building on recent research suggesting that rule-based reasoning underpins how individuals evaluate opportunities, we integrate and synthesize the literature on opportunity evaluation and suggest rule-based reasoning as an overarching theoretical framework to understand opportunity evaluation across fields of study. Specifically, we illuminate how environmental factors, opportunity-related cues, and individual differences coalesce as one uses these factors as judgment rules to discern the personal attractiveness of an opportunity. Further, we explain how managers and entrepreneurs individuate opportunities, demonstrating why different individuals apply different rules and thus view similar opportunities differently. We conclude with implications of rule-based reasoning for opportunity evaluation across a broad set of management disciplines and offer directions for future research.

Journal or Publication:
The Academy of Management Perspectives
David W Williams
Matthew S Wood
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