Opportunity Recognition in Entrepreneurial Teams. Discussion Processes and Creative Outcomes

Master's Thesis, 2017
83 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of content

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

List of Symbols

Table of Appendices


1 Introduction

2 iteratureReview
2.1 Product-Oriented Perspective on Team Creativity
2.2 Entrepreneurial Team Cognition
2.2.1 Framework
2.2.2 Team Creative Cognition as an Emergent State
2.2.3 Inputs on Team Creative Cognition
2.2.4 Mediators on Team Creative Cognition
2.2.5 Opportunity Recognition as the Output of Team Creative Cognition
2.2.6 Recognition of Original and Feasible Opportunities
2.3 Conceptualization of Idea-Generation
2.4 Research Hypotheses – How to Generate Novel and Feasible Ideas?

3 ResearchOperationalizationandMethodology
3.1 Participants and Experiment Procedure
3.2 Measurement
3.2.1 Data Collection and Analytic Strategy
3.2.2 Coding the Idea-Generation Process
3.2.3 Opportunity Originality and Feasibility Rating
3.2.4 Calculations

4 Results
4.1 Summary Statistics
4.2 Correlation of Discussion Phases and Opportunity Recognition

5 Discussion
5.1 Idea-Generation Processes and Creative Opportunities
5.2 Conceptual and Empirical Limitations
5.3 Implications for Further Research

6 Conclusion



List of Figures

Figure 1: Entrepreneurial Team Cognition IMO-Framework

Figure 2: Structure of Configuration Problems

Figure 3: Logic of Innovation Tournaments

Figure 4: Opportunity Creation Process

List of Tables

Table 1: Key Subprocesses and Specific Components of Team Creative Cognition

Table 2: Creative Phases, Actions, and Results During the Idea-Generation

Table 3: Phases and Subprocesses in Entrepreneurial Idea-Generation.

Table 4: Summary Statistics

Table 5: Correlation Matrix

List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

List of Symbols

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table of Appendices

Appendix A: Geneplore Model

Appendix B: Description of Idea-Generation Phases

Appendix C: Experiment Task Description

Appendix D1: Heatmap Plot of The Diagonal Spearman’s Correlation Coefficients

Appendix D2: Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficients

Appendix E: Exemplary Idea-Generation Transcripts


Substantial gains can be made by entrepreneurial teams when recognizing promising busi- ness ideas. Academic research at the intersection of entrepreneurship and cognition has thus recently focused on how entrepreneurial teams generate business ideas and opportunities in order to understand the team decision processes of recognizing original and feasible oppor- tunities. Therefore, creativity (original and feasible outcome) in its multifaceted cognitive manner plays an essential role in generating ideas. However, empirical research on the influ- ence of entrepreneurial team cognition (ETC) on the generation, recognition, and configura- tion of such ideas is still lacking. This thesis is approaching this issue based on team creative cognition and a product-oriented view at creativity, and thus at how the team discussion pro- cess of idea-generation is shaping entrepreneurial opportunities. Based on existing literature in creative cognition the entire idea-generation process is operationalized through convergent and divergent thinking phases and analyzed through conducting a quantitative experiment to examine possible relationships between the created variables. It turns out, that in convergent thinking, entrepreneurial teams generated and recognized less original but more feasible idea sets and final opportunities. In this regard, divergent thinking has an enhancement effect on original sets of ideas. These first findings are finally discussed against the background of ETC and shown to help to facilitate entrepreneurship research in this context to new insights sepa- rated from personal creativity skills, and further to assist entrepreneurs in recognizing oppor- tunities in a practical way.

1 Introduction

The recognition of new business opportunities is important for entrepreneurs as well as for executives. Facing for gains in growth within existing business models on the one hand, or to build up a sustainable business venture with regard to entrepreneurial activity on the other, make such opportunities essential. Not just recently, conceptual studies have got more atten­ tion, in order to investigate in processes and their dynamics that facilitate opportunity recog­ nition (e.g. Baron & Ensley, 2006; Gaglio & Katz, 2001; Shane, 2001). Therein, entrepre­ neurial opportunities were described in their character (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000) and origin (Ardichvili, Cardozo, & Ray, 2003). Latter one is discussed in science under different approaches.

A particular approach is grounded in the nature of an opportunity as a creative product ra­ ther than a single insight (Dimov, 2007). This approach goes beyond the personal creativity of entrepreneurs (e.g. Baron, 2004). Instead of approaching from individual personality (e.g. skills, intelligence, experience, knowledge), an opportunity as a creative product indicates that individuals do not develop their entrepreneurial ideas in isolation, but rather in convincing, engaging with, and organizing other social actors. As a result, developing creative business ideas is a social process of discussion and interpretation. Empirical research practices realized this path, and investigated opportunities as a process outcome in order to their qualities of originality, feasibility, and business value (e.g. Girotra, Terwiesch, & Ulrich, 2010; Rietz­ schel, Nijstad, & Stroebe, 2010). Hence, we know about the composition of opportunities that is implied in an exceptional one. But, research does not answer the question how opportuni­ ties are generated in going beyond the isolated entrepreneur towards the process of finding, discussing and evaluating?

Yet, conceptual and methodological issues have inhibited the facilitation of further empir­ ical research on this topic. Conducted researches rely on observations that were retrospective data and therefore recall biases (e.g. surveying entrepreneurs with regard to their own experi­ ence in the past), include selection biases (e.g. studies based only on successful ventures), or are sensitive for demand characteristics (e.g. directly asking what made one recognize an op­ portunity) (Gregoire, Shepherd, & Schurer Lambert, 2010). Mostly, those issues implied or were confronted by the individual-level resources and abilities with regard to recognize op­ portunities individually. But, individual cognition indicates limited applicability on team-level cognition in general (West, 2007). Individual-level research on cognitive creativity has a long tradition but is one of the most discussed topics in cognitive psychology due to lack of con-sensus and multifaceted approaches. However, these issues are not limited to the research in opportunity recognition (Lubart, 2001). Therefore, issues should be clarified in terms of clear approaches and defined measurements to enable progress in this field. Even the social im- portance of creativity plays an essential role to make advancements in this research field. En- trepreneurs redefine by reinterpreting prior approaches and assumptions what a resource is, and therefore entrepreneurial activity facilitates economic and social progress. Therefore, a rising interest in understanding the cognitive underpinnings of entrepreneurship emerged.

To find answers how the team creative process is shaping recognized opportunities, this thesis focuses on upfront the product-oriented perspective on creativity. It has been advanta- geous when studying an intangible concept like entrepreneurial team cognition (ETC) to clearly define conceptual approaches before (de Mol, Khapova, & Elfring, 2015). Hence, the research topic of ETC is explained throughout with an input-mediator-output (IMO) frame- work in order to emphasize the multifaceted origins of team discussion phases. Team interac- tions were conceptualized by divergent and convergent thinking in order to set contextual boundaries of creativity. Afterwards, attention is restricted on mediators and output processes, which are associated to ETC. Based on 116 audio- and videotaped team idea-generation ses- sions, ETC has been investigated against the background of entrepreneurial opportunities. Sampled discussion rounds were rated by time and may uncover team interactions such as shared mental models and transactive memory systems to identify process patterns. Results are expected to answer, how certain team discussion phases influence the outcome quality of opportunities.

Significant results could be revealed through a correlation analysis. Creative team discus- sion phases, where either convergent and or divergent thinking is implied, have some signifi- cant influences on feasible and original generated idea sets and on the originality of final se- lected opportunities. These novel insights were discussed against the wide context of ETC afterwards. Finally, possible explanations and inferences were presented in order to show the broadening for further research applicability in this context rather to give finite answers about revealed relations.

2 Literature Review

2.1 Product-Oriented Perspective on Team Creativity

Research on creativity is made in broad contexts because of its very vague concept (Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). Creativity has a large applicability within individual and societal levels in many dimensions of task fields. In its narrow sense, individual creativity relates to the ability of resolving problems in daily life or job circumstances through creative behavior or activity (Guilford, 1950). Creativity on the societal level is relevant for new research findings and especially for new inventions like products within the economic context. Whether the acting subjects are individuals, organizations, or societies, they have to integrate existing resources to affect task and problem demands in order to keep competitive in the given environment. However, these approaches similarly emphasize creativity either according to personal char- acteristics, or to certain intellectual traits (Amabile, 1988).

With regard to those fundamental areas, many definitions and concepts about creativity have been developed. In his very early study on this topic, Guilford (1950) describes creativi- ty as the reference to the abilities that are most characteristic to creative individuals. This leads to the inference, that creative outputs are dependent upon the individual degree of moti- vational and temperamental abilities. At the same time, focus on the qualities of the subjective and individual abilities results in the challenge to find significant evidence for influence of certain skills in the creative process. It is difficult to determine the creative personality that is embodied in real subjects and emerges out of certain traits. These characterize the personality behind creative activities through behavior, interest, attitude, and temperamental traits. A trait is the resistant delta of any personal characteristic that differs from one another. Finally, the creative personality is described through a “matter of those patterns of traits” (Guilford, 1950, p. 444). This approach is helpful to investigate the individual behind the creativity. However, Guilford’s essential work is still guiding creative research in a superordinate manner. There- fore, emphasis on the creative output leads to a particular scientific direction.

This perspective focuses on the process of forming the creativity and not solely on the in- dividuals forming the creativity. Here, individual creativity and societal innovation processes are closely interlinked systems (Amabile, 1988). Pursuant to the process itself, “[creativity] is the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other” (Rogers, 1954, p. 252). This enables the allocation of resources and the creative personality already described by Guilford (1950) but introduces the perspective of a process.

However, before starting to define the creative process and its pattern, it is helpful to look at creativity from a product-oriented perspective to focus the final state of the creative process ex ante. The consensus in literature about creativity regards creativity as the manifestation of thoughts as a product, which is novel on one hand and useful on the other hand (Puccio & Cabra, 2012). There are two reasons for that consensus, justified by the difficulties of investi- gating creativity by relying on either process or person measures. First, complexities through observation and assessment of creativity result in multifaceted scientific results. Second, measuring and testing creativity is difficult and therefore not always straightforward. In par- ticular, assessment methods for creativity have a long tradition of disagreement and dissatis- faction among psychologists (Amabile, 1982).

Yet, the current investigation will be clearly straightforward from now onwards by as- sessing creativity in the product-oriented view. Respecting creativity as product outcomes is more straightforward due to three reasons (Amabile, 1982). First, through focusing on a sin- gle idea or product by identifying creativity through experts leaves room for further steps to investigate personal traits and qualities on one hand, and especially for environmental process constraints on the other. Second, this approach grants the possibility to look on the thought processes that are corresponding to the development of those products and ideas. Third, and coming to the product-oriented definition, the present investigation will use creativity as in the definition: “creativity is the production of novel and useful ideas by an individual or small group of individuals working together” (Amabile, 1988, p. 126). It is obvious that the used definition serves two qualities that facilitate measurement.

Other output-oriented definitions of creativity are very close to the used one. Oldham and Cummings (1996) describe creativity through outcomes that are original or novel, relevant and useful. Ford (1996) takes the perspective that outcomes have to be valuable and useful as well. Woodman, Sawyer, and Griffin (1993) extend the definition by further output categories to valuable and useful new products, services, ideas, procedures, or processes generated by individuals working together in a complex social system. All definitions have in common and stress out the important point that one should not interpret creativity as a way of thinking mainly about original expressions or ideas without appropriate acceptance and feasibility. Real creative behavior contains a synthesis or harmony between the criterion of novelty and usefulness (Puccio & Cabra, 2012). Therefore, the combination of novelty and usefulness, as described in Plucker, Beghetto, and Dow (2004), were the most predominant qualities of crea- tivity.

After defining the outcome of creativity, the process of creativity has to be emphasized to understand creativity in the context of the present thesis. With upcoming research on creativi- ty, studies emerged with focus on the process of creativity. Guilford (1950) already introduces one of the first constructs to describe the process of creative actions in his four-stage model. The creative act contains the phases of (a) preparation, (b) incubation, (c) illumination, and (d) verification. By (a) inspecting the problem and collecting available resources the creative production starts. The (b) incubation phase is characterized through little progress in realiza- tion of any outcome. Nonetheless, the underlined activity is still difficult to measure and mon- itor in this step. Built upon that, the (c) illumination stage is more a moment of inspiration characterized by a final or semi-final solution to the problem. At the same time, a strong emo- tional expression can be identified before (d) by verification stage the solution is tested and the process outcome will be examined.

The four-stage-model is still serving the basis for understanding the creative process (Lubart, 2001). Guilford himself was not very satisfied by the development of the four-stage model, because it would not “suggestive for testable hypotheses” (Guilford, 1950, p. 451). Yet, the design of a process model for creativity was helpful to propose a program of re- search. Hence, it was the starting point for further research (Lubart, 2001).

Several studies examined and updated the model described above (e.g. Osborn, 1953; Stein, 1974; Taylor, Berry, & Block, 1958). Amabile (1996) integrated the classic four-stage model into a componential model of creativity. The model contains several phases: problem or task identification, preparation (accumulating and re-enabling relevant resources), response generation (striving and producing possible responses), validation of responses, and commu- nication (evaluating responses against criteria). Based on this, a conclusive phase of decision- making about further work is proposed, because through validation different states can be achieved. The result can be described through the successful development of a product, a state of failure, or a recursive way of repeating one or more phases in the process. Individuals and small groups do not necessarily need to act in a fixed sequence. Therefore, no instances were used while describing the phases. Instead, Eindoven and Vinacke (1952) found no significant verification supporting discrete phases in the creative process. The process is rather a dynamic blend of processes that co-occur and appear in a recursive way during the activity. For in- stance, it could be observed in studying drawing experiments, that during a creative activity “the stages of problem definition and solution finding need not be compartmentalized” (Get- zels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976, p. 90). In another study a dialectic relationship between mo-ments of active sketching mixed with moments of contemplation, general design qualities, and issues in the specific task was observed (Goldschmidt, 1991).

Summarizing these developments and critics leads to the suggestion that Guilford’s (1950) four-stage model has to be revised, which was already mentioned by him (Lubart, 2001). He noted “it is not incubation itself that we find of great interest. It is the nature of the processes that occur during the latent period of incubation, as well as before it and after it” (Guilford, 1950, p. 451). Thus, the stages of the creative process can be studied as an initial point to examine further subprocesses that may play a role in creative activity (Lubart, 2001). The present thesis will focus hereafter on these subprocesses to measure the creative process and its outcomes in a significant and meaningful way.

Many approaches have explored the subject of subprocesses during the past 50 years (Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976; Jay & Perkins, 1997; Lubart, 1994; Sternberg & Lubart, 1999). Multiple subprocesses are involved in creativity. For instance, Campbell (1960) and Simonton (1988) researched the process of generating ideas through combining ideas by chance-based processes. More specific, Mumford, Mobley, Uhlman, Reiter-Palmon, and Doa- res (1991) developed numerous core processes for creative activity that operate on resources structured in categories. These are, operating in the following loosely ordered run, problem construction, information encoding, category search, specification of most appropriate catego- ry, combination and reorganization of category information to produce an integrated order of actions, idea evaluation to determine the potential utility of the proposed solution, implemen- tation of ideas, and monitoring that is important for ‘real-world’ implementation. The dynam- ic applicability of the model is useful in problem-solving, because of the high complexity entailed in both. Furthermore, the core processes are challenging each other and contain fur- ther subprocesses. For instance, reorganizing and integrating domain specific resources in- volve reasoning, analogy use, and divergent thinking (Lubart, 2001).

However, models about the creative process mentioned above do not distinguish between certain hierarchic categories of processes. Runco and Chand (1995) address this topic by dif- ferentiating between primary and secondary processes. Ideation and evaluation combined with problem-finding are considered as the primary components, while knowhow and motiva- tion are influencing them as secondary processes.

Research on the psychodynamic approach to the creative process focuses on the depend- encies of hierarchic categories of processes (Kris, 1952; Kubie, 1958; Suler, 1980). Primary process components act in unstructured, irrational, subjective thoughts and spawn ideational substance that is formed by reality-based, controlled, estimative secondary components.

Chance-based approaches divide the creative process into idea formation by random idea combining, and evaluation that guides to a choice of the most appropriate idea (Campbell, 1960; Simonton, 1988). On the one hand, the distinction and categorization of processes sup- ports the approach to identify further dependencies, and on the other hand to emancipate from rigid process approach based on the initial four-stage model.

Furthermore, it can be distinguished between superior processes and subprocesses. Treffinger (1995) developed three sets: understanding the problem, generating ideas, and planning for action. Each category contains a set of further subprocesses and is further charac- terized through divergent and convergent thinking. Guilford (1956) defines divergent thinking through “much searching or going off in various directions […] clearly seen when there is no unique conclusion” while convergent thinking contains “usually one conclusion or answer that is regarded as unique, and thinking is channeled or controlled in the direction of that an- swer” (Guilford, 1956, p. 274). Coming back to the creative problem-solving model by Treffinger (1995), the way of thinking within the superior- and subprocesses classifies the processes phases into the three distinctive categories mentioned above.

Summing up Treffingers’ and Guilfords’ approaches in structuring creative activity into subprocesses that imply way of thinking and therefore dependencies, it is possible to address fundamental and recent research questions more adequately. One particular question is, where creativity in the creative process comes from (Lubart, 2001)? Consequently, there is less in- terest in subjects and how she or he is able to think in creative activity. The question rather aims at how the creative process itself is shaped through thinking.

2.2 Entrepreneurial Team Cognition

2.2.1 Framework

Approaching entrepreneurial activity leads to many researches about the concept of cognition that has the capacity to explore how entrepreneurial teams corporate in generating entrepre- neurial outcomes (e.g. Baron, 2007; Ensley & Pearce, 2001; Grégoire, Corbett, & McMullen, 2011; Mitchell et al., 2002; Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2008; West, 2007). Based on these recent studies, de Mol et al. (2015) developed a framework about the concept of entrepreneurial team cognition (ETC), which is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1:Entrepreneurial Team Cognition IMO-Framework: Inputs, mediators, and outputs (IMO) are concerned to ETC. Entrepreneurs, on the individual-level or team-level, act as information processors. Especial- ly cognitive taskwork-processes influence ETC or get influenced through ETC, whereby teamwork processes play a subordinate role. In order to investigate opportunity recognition and concerned outputs, team creative cognition plays a central role. Therefore, the initial IMO-framework of de Mol et al. (2015) is reduced.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own illustration modified from de Mol et al. (2015, p. 239)

The framework is built up in three stages called inputs, mediators, and outputs. In the fol- lowing sections, it will be referred to the framework to clarify and organize co-influenced concepts like teamwork and taskwork processes, and how they shape ETC with regard to en- trepreneurial team process outcomes – especially the recognition of entrepreneurial opportuni- ties. The applicability of an input, mediator, output-framework (IMO) has been proved as an instrument to support the generation of informative theoretical models. Team outcomes with team processes and emergent states filling in a central role (e.g. Gist, Locke, & Taylor, 1987; Klotz, Hmieleski, Bradley, & Busenitz, 2014). Before describing the concept of entrepreneur- ial team cognition, the present section will introduce necessary definitions that are supportive to set conceptual boundaries.

Most ventures are founded and executed by groups of individuals rather than single per- sons (Schjoedt & Kraus, 2009; West, 2007). Several definitions about entrepreneurial teams exist, whereby they differ in their orientation (Harper, 2008; Kamm, Shuman, Seeger, & Nu- rick, 1990; Vyakarnam, Bailey, Myers, & Burnett, 1997). The current investigation uses the definition from Klotz et al. (2014), who propose that an entrepreneurial team is “the group of individuals that is chiefly responsible for the strategic decision-making and on-going opera- tions of a new venture” (Klotz et al., 2014, p. 227). This definition suggests that entrepreneur- ial teams are formed by essential interactive components (individuals) that enable, as of the perspective of the team, creativity and the team creativity process (de Mol et al., 2015).

Further, it is essential to set a concrete understanding about the term cognition in the prior described context. Various studies refer to cognition but there is no formal definition of team cognition (de Mol et al., 2015). One possible attempt might be to use the definition of indi- vidual entrepreneurial cognition and to transfer it to the team context. However, this requires that aggregated individual cognition is a proxy for ETC. But, team cognition results from the interaction of the individual cognition of each team member and the team’s process behaviors (DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010; Kozlowski & Klein, 2000). As a first step, de Mol et al. (2015) use the definition from Mitchell et al. (2002) for individual entrepreneurial cogni- tion as “the knowledge structures that people use to make assessments, judgments, or deci- sions involving opportunity evaluation, venture creation, and growth” (Mitchell et al., 2002, p. 97).

Based on this, de Mol and her colleagues (2015) extended the definition for team applica- bility with the concept of team cognition as collective mind (Weick & Roberts, 1993). Collec- tive mind is conceptualizing team cognition “as a pattern of heedful interrelations of actions in a social system” (Weick & Roberts, 1993, p. 357). The concept focuses on processes about the mind where closely linked individuals build up a shared mind system. Therein, interrelat- ed information is shared between the team members, whereas the information is stored indi- vidually (Weick & Roberts, 1993).

The combination described above led to an introductive description of ETC as “an emer- gent state, embedded in team processes and involving sharing content-related knowledge” (de Mol et al., 2015, p. 239). The description is used to explain, discuss and highlight the most crucial parts of ETC. As its quality as a central component of the framework, illustrated in Figure 1, it is important to develop the occurring definition of ETC in detailed manner in order to explain in upcoming chapters the inputs, mediators of and on ETC, and the resulting outputs.

Emergent state: First, an emergent state is the result from complex interactions among team members. Second, it cannot be scaled down to its components (de Mol et al., 2015). With regard to the latter property, it is essential to denote the computational emergence. This means that team cognition is “non-isomorphic to the individual-level elemental cognitive content” (DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010, p. 35). Quite in contrast, team cognition is arising as new substance “from the patterning of knowledge between team members and therefore cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts” (de Mol et al., 2015, p. 240). For subsequently treatment of individual and team or group phenomenon in the present thesis, it is crucial to take this into account at later point.

Further, emergent states are described in a way “in which knowledge important to team functioning is mentally organized, represented, and distributed within the team and allows team members to anticipate in execute actions” (DeChurch & Mesmer-Magnus, 2010, p. 33). Dynamic cognition, motivation, and affection influence the emergent state in a different manner. These qualities depend on team context(s), input(s), process(es) and outcome(s) (Marks, Mathieu, & Zaccaro, 2001). Finally, emergent states are conditions that enable and rest on effective teamwork affected through the influencing qualities mentioned above. The current thesis will focus on team cognition as an emergent state, whereas other emergent states exists, for instance team confidence, empowerment, team climate, cohesion and trust (de Mol et al., 2015).

Embedded in team processes: As a central quality for the present thesis, entrepreneurial team processes have to be distinguished from ETC. Team processes are the means to navigate from a certain input to an output. ETC is the composition of team experiences, including team processes, and it offers new input to processes and outcomes. Thus, ETC also operates as input, and affects the execution of teamwork and taskwork processes. Latter ones are topic of the current investigation. This recursive pattern goes on until entrepreneurial teams attain conclusive outcomes, such as recognizing opportunities (de Mol et al., 2015). For instance, teams that embody high values of team cognition (emergent state) probably will be more inclined to solve an existing conflict (process), which also probably will be reduce further conflict and raise up team cognition. This interdependence is illustrated through the two-sided arrow.

Sharing content-related knowledge: ETC refers to “mentally organizing, representing and distributing knowledge within the team” (de Mol et al., 2015, p. 243). Extensive research is made in this part of the definition. Evidence is found to make necessary differences between the terms shared and collective that are used to denote ETC (Ensley & Hmieleski, 2005; Ensley & Pearce, 2001; Ensley, Pearson, & Pearce, 2003). Shared knowledge is characterized by having common knowledge regarding the concept of shared strategic cognition. The term collective is used for the overlapping part of shared knowledge and expectations if two or more different perspectives merge within the team (West, 2007). The results generated in this way demonstrate either the degree to which team members share their strategic cognitive constructs or to which these differentiate from every other strategic cognitive construct (de Mol et al., 2015).

Different perspectives and objectives are accountable for a broad investigation on this topic, e.g. strategic consensus, collective vision, or shared strategic cognition. De Mol and her colleagues (2015) investigated in their review these influences. In contrast, Vissa and Chacar (2009) provide a wide description of the term shared as team members holding similar knowledge in their attitudes and beliefs regarding to draw common interpretations. Based on this, de Mol et al. (2015) suggest emphasizing the distribution of knowledge structures across team members. The present thesis will take over this quality. Due to the focus on the mediators of ETC and team’s procedurally outcomes, a greater distinction is not needed here.

Finally, the used definition of ETC for further analysis, which emerged through scientific developments mentioned in this chapter, is:

“Entrepreneurial team cognition is an emergent state that refers to the manner in which knowledge is mentally organized, represented and distributed within the team and allows entrepreneurial team members to approach problem-solving and make assessments, judgments or decisions concerned with milestones and outcomes relevant to the entrepreneurial process, such as identifying and evaluating different opportunities […]” (de Mol et al., 2015, p. 243).

De Mol and her colleagues emphasize in their definition the inappropriate use of ETC by summing up the individual parts. Moreover, ETC is a construct of team processes and team experiences, which constitute as the input for further processes and outcomes rather than being a single team process. By characterizing knowledge as organized, represented, and distributed, the definition is not exclusive of broadly made research on shared and collective knowledge within teams. In particular, the definition aims on a certain outcome that is important for well-functioning entrepreneurial teamwork and achievement of relevant outcomes. Most important for the current thesis is the output of opportunity recognition as a team process that will be discussed after describing inputs and mediator of this certain process.

2.2.2 Team Creative Cognition as an Emergent State

Group creativity, that was described in previous chapter, and creative cognition are interlinked approaches. The creative cognition attempt was introduced by Finke, Ward, and Smith (1996). In their Geneplore model they grouped creative cognitive processes into generative and exploratory processes (see also Appendix A). A generative process is made through creating ideas, while an explorative process is described by the evaluation of the generated items. Exploratory processes include the interpretation of structures as representing potential solutions to problems (Shepard, 1978). These processes occur in a cyclical manner where ideas mature with each cycle. Generative and exploratory processes are similar to the divergent and convergent thinking concepts of Guilford (1956). Hence, generative processes and divergent thinking are treated in similarly. Consequently, convergent thinking and exploratory processes are considered to be similar as well.

Research in individual creative cognition focuses on the elementary cognitive functions that generate creative thoughts. A fundamental premise in creative cognition is that all individuals have a certain degree of capacity to be creative. In contrast to that is the trait-based approach placed, which assumes that some individuals are more likely to be creative than others (Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2008). The latter approach targets on personality characteristics that may be reasonable for differences in how somebody is creative in general (Barron & Harrington, 1981). Conceptually, studying personality factors might diverge the researcher from generating new insights. For example, risk taking as one of the most researched personality factors in the entrepreneurship domain, led to mixed results (Busenitz & Arthurs, 2014). Hence, another approach is already made in researching those factors through the lens of cognitive psychology and decision-making (Busenitz, 1999). However, these personality characteristics are clearly not part of this investigation. The focus is rather on team creative cognition as an emergent state within ETC.

Team creative cognition is a well-conceptualized cognitive approach wherein the dynamic reoccurring pattern is visible. Shalley and Perry-Smith (2008) specify the term as a common directory of cognitive processes among team members to generate creative outcomes. These processes vary from team to team and context to context. In this prospect, team cognition is present when team members share a common vision in order to produce creative solutions through problem-solving (Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2008).

As has been proved, the individual difference between different persons’ creativity can be explained to some extent by the “variation in the use of specifiable processes or combinations of processes, the intensity of applications of such processes, the richness or flexibility of stored cognitive structures to which the processes are applied, the capacity of memory systems (such as working memory), and other known and observable fundamental cognitive principles” (Ward, Smith, & Finke, 1999, p. 191). Based on these findings, in generating creative outcomes individuals initially have to involve in particular subprocesses that support in triggering their creative problem solving. For instance, individuals may consider unknown domains to find more appropriate or unique solutions to a challenging problem, or connect ideas from various sources (Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2008).

Team creative cognition is closely interlinked to individual creative cognition. Hence, team creative cognition emerges from an interplay between individual creative cognition processes and the social interactions among team members (Cannon-Bowers, Salas, & Converse, 1993; Cooke, Salas, Kiekel, & Bell, 2004). Teams assemble their individual capabilities and find new ways in generating ideas that are more than the aggregation of the individual parts. Shalley and Perry-Smith (2008) highlight the quality of team creative cognition as a “phenomenon that is an emergent property of the team” (Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2008, p. 27). Moreover, team creative cognition is described in a repertoire for ways to address problems that dynamically occur among two types of subprocesses: (1) problem identification and formulation and (2) conceptual breadth that includes conceptual integration and development (Shalley & Perry-Smith, 2008).

With regard to the definition of an ETC, a strongly overlap can be identified. The quality of an emergent state that is generated by the interplay of different cognitive subprocesses is visible in the compiling property of team creative cognition; it is embedded in team processes where team members share a common view of how to generate solutions and new ideas; knowledge is mentally distributed and shared through social interactions among team members. Table 1 outlined cognitive processes that are specific to team creative cognition as well as key subprocesses of creative cognition in general.

Table 1:Key Subprocesses and Specific Components of Team Creative Cognition

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Shalley and Perry-Smith (2008, p. 28)

Findings on key components in team creative cognition are stressed out in Table 1. Additionally, subprocesses that characterize creative cognition in general are presented in the left column to emphasize the particularity of team components. There are significant differences between team and individual level but the illustrated character of team creative cognition is poorly studied. Therefore, to keep focus on it the following aspects will concentrate on the emergent state of team creative cognition.

However, there are more ETC processes that might be essential for the present thesis as they reflect most of the information sharing processes between an individual member and other members in team interaction. While organizational psychology research has focused more on leading task-relevant team interactions among members, small group research points out foremost cognitive constructs that guide interpersonal interactions among individuals within the team. In the latter area, team and group members have been marked as processors of information (Hinsz, Tindale, & Vollrath, 1997). Therefore, they have to be explained and, if appropriate, interrelations to team creative cognition should be emphasized.

Cognitive constructs on this background are representing the composition of collective perception, cognitive structure in regard to knowledge organization, and information acquisition. Those constructs are widely studied in order to stress their importance for enhancing team effectiveness (Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006). In particular, team and unit climate, team mental models, transactive memory, and team learning have been studied extensively. A col­ lective team unit is a key emergent cognitive structure that forms processes relevant to super­ ordinate objectives and their achievement, for instance the strategic importance of a core mis­ sion. Furthermore, factors that are influencing team climate shape collective climates within the team. These are also linked to strategic imperatives (e.g. strategic leadership) and may enhance the team effectiveness. Also team mental models shape coordination processes with regard to greater purposes, e.g. by training or shared experience. The concept of transactive memory introduced by Wegner, Giuliano, and Hertel (1985) promote the development of a shared memory. On the background of team processes, transactive memory is a collective system for encryption, storing, and rediscovering information that is spread to team members (Wegner, 1986, 1995). The transactive memory system originates from a cluster of distributed and individual memory systems that unite the particular knowledge of an individual with the shared awareness about another particular members' knowledge (Wegner, 1995). Teams with more developed or better transactive memories may be more effective. For instance, the knowledge about member specialization and strategies to address that knowledge enhance the effectiveness of team processes (Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006). Finally, team learning is about interaction and experience within a team that guides the acquisition of knowledge, abilities, and performance skills of an interdependent set of individuals. Compared to the other cogni­ tive constructs mentioned above, team learning is dependent from the context and socially bounded. Therefore, Kozlowski and Ilgen (2006) reviewed team learning as a process that guides stated cognitive constructs as emergent states. Furthermore, there has been little re­ search about specifying when the process of team learning occurs. Therefore, team learning as a cognitive construct has to be handled carefully.

Turning to team creative cognition, it seems to be important that also teams have some shared knowledge and mental model of their diverse roles and expertise while acting in crea­ tive processes (Edwards, Day, Arthur, & Bell, 2006). Accordingly teams represent a strong degree of transactive memory system in collaborative creativity tasks (Ancona & Bresman, 2006; Lewis, 2003). Teams produce solutions by scanning their long-term memories, attend­ing to other team members' ideas, and combining or refining on previously generated ideas and others' ideas. (Paulus, Dzindolet, & Kohn, 2012).

Entrepreneurial teams face similar kinds of strategic decision dynamics. Venture teams seek information to make strategic decisions in order to create mental models, which organize beliefs and rules in a manner that allows to make sense out of an precarious environment(Busenitz & Arthurs, 2014). Furthermore, those cognitive concepts support to identify new commercial opportunities (Shane & Venkataraman, 2000).

Three concepts of social interactions in creative activities shall round up as important phenomena: (individual) engagement, social sharedness, and hidden profile. These concepts of mental models might be especially relevant for the present thesis. With regard to engagement, creativity is a stimulus that gets an individual to engage in the creative process to produce creative outcomes. From person to person and from situation to situation, the level of engagement can vary (Drazin, Glynn, & Kazanjian, 1999; Ford, 1996). Regardless of the type of group creativity, engagement of many individuals is needed. However, group and individual processes are of similar composition, because both involve cognitive processes of idea generation and idea evaluation (Amabile, 1988, 1996). With regard to problems that confront members with highly complex and multifaceted tasks, it is difficult to separate between individualand group-level contributions. More important might be, that members of creative groups choose conscious or subconscious different forms of engagement during evaluative subtasks, e.g. to stand up for their own ideas, show enthusiasm for others’ ideas, or to provide interpersonal rewards for exceptional ideas (Elsbach & Kramer, 2003; Murnighan & Conlon, 1991; Sutton & Hargadon, 1996). Those processes reflect in particular the final convergent assessment and decisive phase during problem-solving.

The concept of social sharedness (Schneider & Shanteau, 2003; Tindale & Kameda, 2000) is about the relationship between task-relevant cognitions and their influence on the group. The degree of social sharedness is essential to understand how groups process information. How information will be shared among team members is distinct from individuallevel processing. If task-relevant cognitions are shared to the group, they have a greater influence on the group than equivalent constructs that are not shared among members have. Shared cognitions are widely deduced from information about alternatives, preferences for decision alternatives or heuristic processing strategies that members may not even express. More practical sense, cognitions and cognitive processes, preferences, attitudes, motives, norms, identities and ethnicities can be shared among team members (Tindale & Kameda, 2000).

Stasser and Titus (1985) used the paradigm called the hidden profile and showed that information that was shared by all team members in the beginning of the process was much more likely to be brought up while group discussion and finally much more influential in the final group decision. They found out that individuals trying to generate process outcomes on group-level, spend most of their time sharing information to the others that everyone already possesses. In addition, members are unlikely to share new information known only to them-selves which finally leads to poor decisions. Based on this widely researched bias phenomenon, Wittenbaum, Hollingshead, and Botero (2004) found three explanations that are useful for understanding: memory, pre-judgments, and anxiety.

First, brought up information is likely to be more memorable in the first place, because if more people know about certain resources the probability is increased that one team member will repeat it. Second, people make their minds up before getting into group discussion. The pre-judgment depends on the information that will be shared in the discussion by her or him. During the discussion, the individual brings up the information to support the pre-judgment. Third, individuals are unsure about their information and its quality before they share the information. Therefore, in this case they are anxious to expose themselves in presence of others in the group. Information that emerges during the discussion seems to be more important for the solution, so people recall it. The individual member feels safer when she or he talks about shared rather than unshared information (Wittenbaum & Bowman, 2004). Given the shared information effect, a fair amount of research has targeted on how to enhance the probability that all relevant information is brought up in team discussions (Brodbeck, Kerschreiter, Mojzisch, Frey, & Schulz-Hardt, 2002; Sawyer, 1997; Sheffey, Tindale, & Scott, 1989).

Cognitive process phenomena as described above are helpful to understand the interactions and interdependencies in social interaction. They serve as an introduction to illustrate the multifaceted process of the creative process that can be expected in opportunity recognition. Nonetheless, the majority of the present investigation will focus more on functional process entities and structures rather than identifying certain individual and team characteristics. This leads to the output perspective of the process and its relation to the how creative decisions are made in order to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities.

2.2.3 Inputs on Team Creative Cognition

While focusing on the effects of individual personal factors on creativity for many years, there has been an increasing attention on innovation in work teams. Finally, this led to increased investigations on the group creative process (de Mol et al., 2015; Mannix, Neale, & Goncalo, 2009; Paulus & Brown, 2007; Paulus & Nijstad, 2003). But individual-level inputs were often aggregated to the team level to produce team-level constructs, for instance prior shared knowledge. Further, there are no particular studies about antecedents of ETC concepts and how those mediate the following process (de Mol et al., 2015).

However, Shamsud (2005) studied indirect effects of how cognitive comprehensiveness, or how effectively entrepreneurial teams creates a set of eventual solutions to given problems that are positively concerned to team effectiveness. Other studies also take into account team effectiveness but do not include the cognitive process focus (e.g. Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2006). The most studies are about prior experience and the ability to affect firm behavior. West (2007) explored the collective cognition that functions as a mediating mechanism. It is about the interdependence between the antecedents and the outcomes of team decision-making. Entrepreneurial teams with high or low collective cognitions are concerned to lower levels of performance than teams with moderate collective cognitions.

By focusing on team-level inputs, creative activity is driven by long-term generation of sustainable business ideas. However, little justification is given by ignoring the team literature in a review of group creativity and vice versa (Moreland & Levine, 2009). Thus, in case of demand the research used on group creativity will be transferred to the context of team creativity.

Teams can be splitted into four types within organizations: work, parallel, project, and management teams (Cohen & Bailey, 1997). With regard to group effectiveness in brainstorming, some social science researchers have argued in favor of nominal groups (Paulus, Brown, & Ortega, 1996; Stroebe & Diehl, 1994), i.e. the same number of individuals develops solutions in isolation. In contrast, Kavadias and Sommer (2009) found evidence that no group configuration dominates in new product development. However, teams are widely explored in the context of organizational settings related to other team demographics. Nonetheless, ETC was not the research target as outcome in those studies.

More relevant for the current thesis are the findings from Zhang, Zhang, and Song (2015). They explored the influence of eight individual-level factors on creative solution formation process, which go beyond particular skills. Intrinsic motivation, intelligence, and divergent thinking have a significant and positive influence on creative idea generation and idea development. Further, idea generation is significantly influenced by tacit knowledge. These findings lead to and trigger further focus on the ETC mediators and ETC outcomes against the background of creativity. By further steps made in the following subsections, I clarify creativity taskwork, creative teamwork, and creative outcomes.


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Opportunity Recognition in Entrepreneurial Teams. Discussion Processes and Creative Outcomes
Technical University of Munich  (TUM School of Management)
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Entrepreneurial Teams Creativity Opportunity
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Tilman Tunk (Author), 2017, Opportunity Recognition in Entrepreneurial Teams. Discussion Processes and Creative Outcomes, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/493467


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