Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Tim Rahschulte, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Paul Shelton, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kathy Milhauser, DBA


The purpose of this study is to explore how individuals go about identifying new business opportunities, also known as opportunity recognition. Opportunity recognition is the first and most critical step in the entrepreneurship and innovation process. Past models of opportunity recognition took a narrow approach, subscribing to a single perspective of opportunity recognition and tended to overemphasize either the person or the process rather than examining all possible mechanisms and their interaction effects. This study has taken a holistic approach, with a focus on both serial entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, aimed at exploring a range of conditions present in small startups and large organizations. Data findings were distilled down into ten proposition statements and presented in a visual process model of opportunity recognition. A total of 23 variables emerged in the research study, 12 of which were new concepts not identified in previous models. The most salient and profound insight from the study was the importance of reframing the opportunity until the “real opportunity” emerged. This back and forth reframing process occurred in cycles until a clear problem-solution fit was identified. The major contribution of this model is that it expands upon cognition theory by showing how the idea enactment process feeds back into the individual’s thought process, emphasizing the interaction effects between thinking and action. The resulting model follows a clear flow and sequence of events but also illustrates the organic nature of the ideation process and allows for multiple pathways into an innovative idea. This study bridges an important divide between the entrepreneurship and innovation literature and shows how different perspectives in the literature such as creation and discovery, identification and enactment, and active and passive search can coexist. This research provides the foundation from which to operationalize the model and develop training and educational materials for management, consultants, and educators. The study has the potential to help business leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs unlock new market opportunities, navigate a broad mix of innovation tools and techniques, and enhance cognitive skills that are central to the opportunity recognition process. Cultivating this talent is critical to achieving a sustainable competitive advantage and the successful value creation of new ventures.