Defense Date

Summer 11-16-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Business Administration

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Justin Webb

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Dr. Torsten Pieper


Franz Kellermanns


Select entrepreneurs are successful for a reason. They have been able to use their alertness and prior knowledge, among other skill sets, to identify and exploit new opportunities. However, when new opportunities are identified outside of their area of expertise, will they choose to pursue these opportunities, or stick to the behaviors that are most comfortable? While several studies have been conducted looking at the characteristics of the entrepreneur, or the experiences faced by the entrepreneur, there is a gap in the current literature when combining these two elements. The current literature lacks an understanding as to how the environment influences the recognition and exploitation process in times of chaos and change. The current study draws on social cognition theory and emergence theory to better understand the characteristics of the experience.

The study uses a quantitative survey within the United States. The results indicate that in times of chaos, individuals are not as alert to recognizing new opportunities or the exploitation of opportunities. Rather than the expected positive moderating effect a negative relationship was discovered. Also of interest, all of the hypotheses related to the moderating effects of unintended impacts were rejected due to non-significance and direction. As for the controls, age and number of industries participated were found to be the best indicators for both opportunity recognition and exploitation. Financial performance and education were not found to be significant indicators in recognizing or exploiting new opportunities.