Author:Kwon, Sang Jib


The increasing popularity of the creating new ventures in the Korean market did not last long into the new millennium. Ventures once highly regarded in the market have disappeared because of lack of core technology and insufficient entrepreneurial competency. In contrast, ventures in the United States and Taiwan have contributed to the dynamism of their national economies. Ventures in Korea are currently facing limits to growth due to the lack of entrepreneurial opportunity recognition and the dearth of knowledge management capability. Ventures with fewer resources than large firms should continue to search for and capture core opportunities. In the past, successful companies acknowledged and moved quickly to solve any problems recognized by consumers (Stalk, Pecaut & Burnett, 1996), whereas unsuccessful companies failed repeatedly in the market as they did not recognize the transformations occurring in the external environment. Therefore, corporations need to understand how they can identify and develop new business opportunities (Baron, 2006). With insufficient resources and capabilities, ventures should be more sensitive to changes in the market and need to develop the dynamic capability to deal with them (Ardichvili, Cardozo & Ray, 2003). Entrepreneurship, which is a topic of widespread interest today, is the ability to identify and realize new entrepreneurial opportunities. Entrepreneurs must seize opportunities compatible with their organizational capabilities and devise specific methods to utilize them.

In Korea, however, strict government regulations and intense global competition have increasingly reduced the potential for new ventures. As a result, studies on Korean ventures' opportunity identification and capacity building have decreased. Nevertheless, Korean ventures have enhanced their capabilities and demonstrated remarkable performance. While the potential for ventures is shrinking as large corporations come to dominate even niche markets, some entrepreneurs retain outstanding entrepreneurship and strategic objectives. Strategic agility with which entrepreneurs continuously quickly identify, develop and capture new business opportunities is emerging as a critical element of firm success.

Particularly, the proactive strategy and dedication of Korean entrepreneurs have generated the most dynamic IT growth in Asia (Park, Kwon, Kim, Ohm & Chang, 2014), driven by the excellent venture performance and entrepreneurial capability to recognize business opportunities. Moreover, Korean ventures have exemplified important academic lessons about the growth of ventures in developing countries and have attracted keen attention to their practical implications for the global growth strategy of ventures. In other words, the capability to discover new business opportunities and utilize them is essential for the growth of Korean ventures and entrepreneurship. However, insufficient research has been conducted to investigate the identification and development of business opportunities by ventures in the Korean market (Han, Chung, Son & Kwon, 2017).

Hence, this study conducts a case study on major ventures that achieved growth by identifying opportunities continuously. The main goal of the present study is to provide practical suggestions to local entrepreneurs. Of late, business opportunity identification and capacity building are of great interest to ventures that are facing limits to growth. Accordingly, this study focuses on performance enhancement through opportunity identification by Korean ventures, based on the capability of entrepreneurs and on enhancing academic understanding and offering implications about ventures' opportunity identification and capacity building.

Section 2 outlines the theoretical literature background. Section 3 introduces the research method and the reasons for our focus on the process of opportunity identification and development. Section 4 presents the case study results and the research proposition. Finally, section 5 offers the concluding assessment.


Entrepreneurial Alertness and Opportunity Realization

In the study of entrepreneurship, the process of recognizing and commercializing new business opportunity has become one of the most popular domains (Baron, 2006; Shane & Venkataraman, 2000; Short, Ketchen, Shock & Ireland, 2010). Particularly, entrepreneurial alertness to recognize opportunity is the ability to identify market changes and their effect in the industry (Kirzner, 1985). Therefore, entrepreneurial alertness represents the capability of entrepreneurs to create previously unrealized potential value in the process of recognizing and developing new ideas (Jintong, Michele & Lowell, 2012). To grow, firms need to continuously discover and develop business opportunities using entrepreneurial alertness in the market. In recent times, entrepreneurial alertness has emerged as the most essential factor in ensuring corporate sustainability, irrespective of organization type and size.

Among the numerous definitions for the concept of opportunity, Von Hippel (1994) explains opportunity as the "value that customers will pursue in the future in the market." Additionally, Schroeder, Buckman & Cardozo (1996) argue that opportunities can be generated through the technology and knowledge held by firms and by utilizing the capability to exploit resources. That is, the previous literature stresses that the capability to create value provides new opportunities (Han, 2017; Kwon, Park, Ohm & Yoo, 2015). A review of relevant previous theories and studies leads us to conclude that entrepreneurial alertness is explained as "the ability to promptly respond to information generated in a certain environment and to cultivate sensitivity to market and opportunities". Hence, the combination of firms' external environment and internal capabilities can raise entrepreneurial alertness and, in turn, facilitate the identification of new opportunities (Gaglio & Taub, 1992; Hisrich, 1990; Kwon, 2015).

Opportunity Identification

One of the most important elements for entrepreneurs is alertness with which they can identify new ideas in a timely manner and convert them into innovative business opportunities (Ko & Butler, 2003; Stevenson, Roberts & Grousbeck, 1985). The importance of recognizing new business opportunities has been frequently mentioned in many studies. For example, Venkataraman (1997) stresses the importance of research in methods to create new values and facilitate judicious utilization of business opportunities by ventures (Park, Kim, Kwon, Ohm, Del Pobil & Yoo, 2016).

Previous studies, however, are limited as they considered only a single aspect of opportunity identification and development process. For example, Sigrist (1999) focuses on the cognitive process for opportunity recognition, while Hills & Sharder (1998) focus more on the social network. On the other hand, Shane (2000) considers prior experiences and background knowledge to be effective factors in opportunity identification. Hence, the literature on factors of opportunity identification and development appears to lack consistency (Park et al., 2016).

Strategic Agility and Dynamic Capability

Changes in business and environment are a fact of life for firms. In order to deal with change, entrepreneurs need to have strategic agility (Doz & Kosonen, 2010). As an indispensable capability for firms to survive in a rapidly changing environment, strategic agility is categorized into three enabling capabilities: strategic sensitivity, leadership unity and resource fluidity. These three elements are necessary for firms to grow and innovate.

Strategic sensitivity signifies the sharpness of perception and intensity of awareness and attention in communication with the outside world through an open strategic process (Park, Kwon & Kim, 2016). Leadership unity connotes the capability of the management to make and implement decisions promptly and boldly. Resource fluidity denotes the internal capability to identify opportunity and redeploy resources rapidly (Doz & Kosonen, 2010). In addition, in order to boost the collective commitment of members of an organization, leaders should display adaptive leadership (Heifetz & Laurie, 2001). Fair implementation of the process may encourage members to demonstrate collective commitment in a dynamically changing environment (Van der Heyden & Limberg, 2007).

The capability of a firm to establish a dynamic learning process and understand advanced technology and market changes has been perceived as essential, rather than optional (Cooper, 1991). Therefore, businesses should continue to acquire capabilities through learning in order not to fall behind in tandem with changes in the business environment (Kim, 1999; Park, Yoo, Kwon, Ohm & Chang, 2016). Additionally, the starting point is to encourage members of a corporation to learn effectively. Other core competencies needed for a firm include redeploying internal resources flexibly according to the changes in the environment (Thompson, 2003).

In this rapidly changing environment, instead of entirely relying on core competency, firms need adaptation and adjustment to manage products and their business according to changes in business models or the environment. In particular, entrepreneurs should continuously strive to respond flexibly to each of the changes in the market such as the integration of hardware and software (Galunic & Eisenhardt, 1996). Therefore, businesses and entrepreneurs need to examine their own resources and adjust their business models. Firms should encourage all members of the organization to recognize the environment dynamically and respond to changes flexibly. Moreover, by redeploying resources in response to environmental changes, firms should cultivate the capability to adapt flexibly in the market (Doz & Kosonen, 2010; Kwon, Park & Kim, 2014).


This research investigated how...

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