The role of entrepreneurial intuition in making sense of strategic opportunities.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
With the increasing amount of data and analytic tools now available, how do strategists actually utilise intuition in the opportunity sensing process? The existing literature in this area highlights the multi-faceted nature of intuition and agrees on the importance of entrepreneurial intuition from a theoretical perspective but this study is among the first to examine this specific aspect of strategic practice empirically. This research adopts a pragmatic strategy as practice perspective to examine the use of entrepreneurial intuition and employs a longitudinal research design along with a methodology that draws on dual process theory from cognitive psychology and creative action theory from sociology.
Through the use of cognitive causal maps, seven hi-tech strategists were engaged in a two year longitudinal data collection process during which time they each sought and attempted to progress a number of strategic opportunities. Subsequent abductive analysis of the case data along with synthesis of existing models of creativity and strategic cognition has allowed for a dynamic recursive model of opportunity navigation to be proposed. This “intimation spiral” extends existing static typologies of strategic cognition and outlines the cognitive process that the strategists undertook when navigating a new opportunity, including phases of intimation, investigation, validation and incubation.
It was also found that the participant’s entrepreneurial intuition was often deployed to evaluate other people in the process. This research sheds new light on how the strategist’s confidence in themselves, their own organisation, other parties, and the external network are related through the creative actions undertaken.
The strategic timing of opportunities was also a significant area where entrepreneurial intuition was found to be deployed and a range of temporal factors were uncovered such as adoption rate, opportunity cost, reward profile, need for speed, control of timing and organisational readiness. Examining the temporal structures the strategists employed in practice, such as event time, clock time and cycle time and how these relate to the strategic issue of entrainment, or synchronisation, helps build on existing theoretical work in this area.
In addition to opening the door for further research in this area, the findings have implications for strategic practitioners in terms of helping increase metacognitive awareness, offering a means of building confidence in opportunities and highlighting different aspects of timing which may be crucial to the success of a strategic opportunity.