The role of creativity in opportunity search and business idea creation

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ This paper aims to investigate the relationships between student creativity, various opportunity search strategies, and the viability of business ideas developed during an entrepreneurship education module. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper sets out hypotheses on the associations between individual creativity, opportunity search strategies and the viability of business ideas generated. A group of 117 students provided the sample data by participating in pre-programme and post-programme surveys. Explorative factor analysis was employed to examine latent variables, and factor structures were confirmed by confirmatory factor analysis. Structural equation modelling was then used to test the resulting hypotheses. Findings ‐ The results show that creativity is not directly associated with the viability of the business idea. Creativity does, however, strengthen the creative opportunity search strategies and the use of opportunity identification strategies based on knowledge acquisition. Accordingly, the influence of creativity on the viability of the business idea is fully mediated by those opportunity search strategies that are creative and based on knowledge acquisition. They both have a positive effect on the perceived viability of the business idea. Research limitations/implications ‐ The study illustrates the co-existence of art and science in the process of recognising entrepreneurial opportunity, which involves individual action and reflection in order for a viable business idea to be developed. Practical implications ‐ Although creativity is perceived as a valuable element of the generation of business ideas, it has to be accompanied by opportunity search activities in order to generate viable business ideas. The findings emphasise the role of creative behaviour in devising the business idea and also of incorporating creative thinking into business planning. Originality/value ‐ The paper contributes to the theoretical understanding of how individual creativity affects the viability of business ideas as well as the way in which students search for business opportunities.
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