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Establishing individual differences related to opportunity alertness and innovation dependent on academic-career training

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this research was to investigate using the seminal writings of Schumpeter and Kirzner as a guide ‐ individuals who are potentially involved in entrepreneurship can be identified as being innovators or opportunity-alert. Specifically, this exploratory project attempts to answer the following question: "Are some individuals better at being innovators, while others are better able to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities and, if so, does academic-career training matter?" Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study relied on purposive sampling and received survey responses from postgraduate students in business and engineering. The 26-item survey was made up of demographic indices and questions from the Schumpeter and Kirzner literature. A total of 242 business and 525 engineering students received the e-mail from academic advisors. Usable responses were received from 36 business students (15 percent response rate) and 67 engineering students (13 percent response rate). Findings ‐ The research found evidence that individuals with engineering training were not as proficient at recognizing opportunities as their business-trained contemporaries. Research limitations/implications ‐ This is an exploratory research project which acknowledges the associated limitations. As well as contributing to a deeper understanding of two core entrepreneurship topics these findings have pedagogical and practitioner implications. From a pedagogy vantage point, instructors will be better equipped to frame courses in entrepreneurship if they better understand the propensity of their audience. The results indicate that this is particularly relevant to engineering schools. In practitioner terms, funding groups and various supporters of entrepreneurs (business angels, family financiers, and the like) will be better able to understand and work with individuals if they are aware that they are not, for example, alert to new opportunities. Originality/value ‐ This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of innovation and opportunity alertness.
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Keywords: Entrepreneurs; Innovation; Teaching

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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