Live-blogging from the conference, day 2

The morning of the second and final day of the conference at Copenhagen Business School started with a keynote by Shaker Zahra (University of Minnesota), who talked about the lack of research on opportunity exploitation. In fact, most research attempts to define, identify, and analyze opportunity discovery or recognition, but fails to take the analysis one step further: from idea, imagination, vision to action. Obviously, what matters to organizations in real life is not simply the discovery of an opportunity (though Kirznerians might disagree) but (successfully) acting to exploit it. The exploitation is also the only thing we can see empirically in the data ex post.

As argued by Shaker, the exploitation of opportunities is (or should be) the core of strategic entrepreneurship. Firms need to act on discovered (or imagined, to use McQuinnian terminology) opportunities so that their resource combinations can be reconfigured in order to exploit the opportunity. Only through exploiting opportunities can a firm be profitable and establish and sustain their competitive advantage.

Following Shaker, O&M blogger Nicolai Foss presented a paper on the role of external knowledge sources in discovery exploitation and the role of organizational design to support this process.  The paper, as discussant Nils Stieglitz noted, opens up the black box of opportunity exploitation; doing so through analyzing organizational design from a knowledge source perspective is an interesting contribution. The problem here, of course, is a potential survivor bias in that the organizational design of unsuccessful firms is not part of the sample (and how could it be?).

So far, a very interesting morning. And it seems most of yesterday’s audience successfully made it out of bed early to indulge in some of the wisdom Shaker Zahra shared in the first session.


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