Document Type

Occasional Paper

Publication Date



Emergence is at the core of entrepreneurship research, which has explored the coming-intobeing of opportunities, new organizations, re-organizations, and new industries, agglomerations, and so on. Emergence is also at the theoretical core of complexity science, which is essentially dedicated to exploring how and why emergence happens in dynamic systems (like entrepreneurship). This exploration begins by defining Opportunity In-tension as a dynamic interplay of personal agency and perceived opportunity, which is a catalyst for entrepreneurial behavior. Then I propose two insights about emergence, based on recent research in complexity science. First, a process theory for emergence is presented, which integrates Gartner’s model of “organizing” with the Dissipative Structures Theory of order creation. Second, a definition for emergence is derived, which leads to a surprising notion that emergence can occur in “degrees” (i.e. 1ST–degree emergence, 2ND–degree emergence, and 3RD–degree emergence). Through this approach I suggest that entrepreneurship incorporates a much broader range of phenomenon than may have been previously thought. In a sense, by claiming emergence as a foundation for entrepreneurship, both disciplines can find new ground for research and application.


Working Paper #1040.

Submitted to the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Management, 2008.

Included in

Business Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.