IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Levels and degrees of emergence: toward a matrix of complexity in entrepreneurship


  • Benyamin B. Lichtenstein


Emergence is at the core of entrepreneurship research, which has explored the coming-into-being of opportunities, new organisations, re-organisations, and new industries, agglomerations, and so on. Emergence is also at the theoretical core of complexity science, which is dedicated to exploring how and why emergence happens in dynamic systems like entrepreneurship. I propose a definition for emergence, which leads to the notion that emergence can occur in 'degrees' – from 1st-degree emergence to 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree emergence. Next, I provide a complexity-based explanation for the driver of emergence – 'opportunity tension', which sparks the entrepreneuring process. Finally, I draw from recent analyses of emergence to identify a process-theory of order creation, and show how this is driven or sparked by entrepreneuring. This leads to a matrix of emergence in entrepreneurship, which captures the degrees of emergence across the levels of entrepreneurial organising.

Suggested Citation

  • Benyamin B. Lichtenstein, 2011. "Levels and degrees of emergence: toward a matrix of complexity in entrepreneurship," International Journal of Complexity in Leadership and Management, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 1(3), pages 252-274.
  • Handle: RePEc:ids:ijclma:v:1:y:2011:i:3:p:252-274

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hodjat Shakiba & Sohrab Delangizan & Yosef Mohamadifar, 2022. "Inclusive urban entrepreneurial ecosystem policies: An application of the meta‐synthesis approach," Poverty & Public Policy, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 14(4), pages 342-380, December.
    2. Kullak, Franziska S. & Baker, Jonathan J. & Woratschek, Herbert, 2021. "Enhancing value creation in social purpose organizations: Business models that leverage networks," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 630-642.
    3. Roundy, Philip T. & Bradshaw, Mike & Brockman, Beverly K., 2018. "The emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems: A complex adaptive systems approach," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-10.
    4. Allan O’Connor & David Audretsch, 2023. "Regional entrepreneurial ecosystems: learning from forest ecosystems," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 60(3), pages 1051-1079, March.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ids:ijclma:v:1:y:2011:i:3:p:252-274. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sarah Parker (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.