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Contingency as an entrepreneurial resource: How private obsession fulfills public need

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  • Harmeling, Susan

Abstract

Borrowing from Rorty (1989:37), this article portrays the entrepreneurial process as a mechanism through which "private obsession" fulfills "public need." It begins with an argument that a deeper understanding of contingency can enhance management scholarship in general and entrepreneurship in particular. It continues with an examination of contingency and entrepreneurial opportunity and then uses six narratives to show how both personal and historical contingencies become resources in the entrepreneurial process. A depiction of possible alternative responses (counterfactuals) for each narrative illustrates how entrepreneurs tend to take a resourceful, rather than an adaptive or a heroic stance toward contingency. A discussion of American Pragmatism provides theoretical support for contingency's role in the entrepreneurial process. The paper concludes with a literature review and a look at how this view of entrepreneurial contingency illuminates the temporal context in management scholarship, among other implications for both research and practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Harmeling, Susan, 2011. "Contingency as an entrepreneurial resource: How private obsession fulfills public need," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 293-305, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:26:y:2011:i:3:p:293-305
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip Cooke, 2002. "Biotechnology Clusters as Regional, Sectoral Innovation Systems," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 25(1), pages 8-37, January.
    2. Mole, Kevin F. & Mole, Miranda, 2010. "Entrepreneurship as the structuration of individual and opportunity: A response using a critical realist perspective: Comment on Sarason, Dean and Dillard," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 230-237, March.
    3. Dew, Nicholas & Velamuri, S. Ramakrishna & Venkataraman, Sankaran, 2004. "Dispersed knowledge and an entrepreneurial theory of the firm," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 659-679, September.
    4. J. M. Keynes, 1937. "The General Theory of Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 209-223.
    5. Ardichvili, Alexander & Cardozo, Richard & Ray, Sourav, 2003. "A theory of entrepreneurial opportunity identification and development," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 105-123, January.
    6. Susan Harmeling & Saras Sarasvathy & R. Freeman, 2009. "Related Debates in Ethics and Entrepreneurship: Values, Opportunities, and Contingency," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 84(3), pages 341-365, February.
    7. Sarason, Yolanda & Dean, Tom & Dillard, Jesse F., 2006. "Entrepreneurship as the nexus of individual and opportunity: A structuration view," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 286-305, May.
    8. Davidsson, Per & Honig, Benson, 2003. "The role of social and human capital among nascent entrepreneurs," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 301-331, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engel, Yuval & Kaandorp, Mariƫtte & Elfring, Tom, 2017. "Toward a dynamic process model of entrepreneurial networking under uncertainty," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-51.

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    Keywords

    Contingency Pragmatism Effectuation;

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