Technology-based business opportunity identification in a Latin American country


In recent years, the number and quality of entrepreneurial projects that pursue technology-based business opportunities in Latin America, specifically in Mexico, have been growing. To support such efforts, it is important to understand the process through which entrepreneurs discover and create a technology-based business opportunity with the available resources as well as its similarities and differences regarding those processes in industrialized economies. This research analyzes technology-based business opportunity identification processes in Mexico and compares it with what is reported in the specialized literature about such processes in industrialized economies. The findings are based on content analysis of eight in-depth interviews applied to technology-based entrepreneurs. Specific contributions are discussed for the analysis of the Latin American innovation ecosystems and to the available theory about technological business opportunity identification processes. The main contribution to the specialized literature is the identification of patterns in the technology-based opportunity discovery process in contexts where knowledge resources and infrastructure are less abundant than in industrialized economies. The results illustrate the importance of the processes and skills that technology entrepreneurs must deploy to gain knowledge they know exists and those they need to master in order to take advantage of knowledge-based economic opportunities.
PDF (English)


Alcorta, L., & Peres, W. (1998). Innovation systems and technological specialization in Latin America and the Caribbean. Research Policy, 26(7-8), 857–881.

Amorós, J. E., Fernández, C., & Tapia, J. (2012). Quantifying the relationship between entrepreneurship and competitiveness development stages in Latin America. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 8(3), 249–270.

Arocena, R., & Sutz, J. (2000). Looking at National Systems of Innovation from the South. Industry & Innovation, 7(1), 55–75.

Arocena, R., & Sutz, J. (2001). Changing knowledge production and Latin American universities. Research Policy, 30(8), 1221–1234.

Autio, E., & Yli-Renko, H. (1998). New, technology-based firms in small open economies-An analysis based on the Finnish experience. Research Policy, 26(9), 973–987.

Blanco, L., & Grier, R. (2012). Natural resource dependence and the accumulation of physical and human capital in Latin America. Resources Policy, 37(3), 281–295.

Bruton, G. D., & Rubanik, Y. (1997). High technology entrepreneurship in transitional economies: The Russian experience. The Journal of High Technology Management Research, 8(2), 213–223.

Bruton, G. D., Ahlstrom, D., & Puky, T. (2009). Institutional differences and the development of entrepreneurial ventures: A comparison of the venture capital industries in Latin America and Asia. Journal of International Business Studies, 40(5), 762–778.

Bruton, G. D., Dess, G. G., & Janney, J. J. (2007). Knowledge management in technology-focused firms in emerging economies: Caveats on capabilities, networks, and real options. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 24(2), 115–130.

Casas, R., De Gortari, R., & Santos, M. J. (2000). The building of knowledge spaces in Mexico: A regional approach to networking. Research Policy, 29(2), 225–241.

Choi, Y. T., & Shepherd, D. A. (2004). Entrepreneurs’ decisions to exploit opportunities. Journal of Management, 30(3), 377–395.

Cimoli, M., & Katz, J. (2003). Structural reforms, technological gaps and economic development: a Latin American perspective. Industrial & Corporate Change, 12(2), 387–411.

Cimoli, M., Ferraz, J. C., & Primi, A. (2009). Science, technology and innovation policies in global open economies: Reflections from Latin America and the Caribbean. Revista de Globalización, Competitividad y Gobernabilidad, 3(1), 32–60.

Cooper, S. Y., & Park, J. S. (2008). The impact of `incubator’ organizations on opportunity recognition and technology innovation in new, entrepreneurial high-technology ventures. International Small Business Journal, 26(1), 27–56.

Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3–21.

Davidsson, P., & Honig, B. (2003). The role of social and human capital among nascent entrepreneurs. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(3), 301–332.

De Gortari, R., & Santos, M. J. (2004). Learning paths in the management of technological capacity of national firms in Mexico. Latin American Business Review, 5(2), 25–44.

Eisenhardt K. M., & Graebner, M. E. (2007). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and challenges. Academy of Management, 50(1), 25–32.

García-Cabrera, A. M. & García-Soto, M. G. (2009). A Dynamic Model of Technology-based Opportunity Recognition. Journal of Entrepreneurship, 18(2), 167–190.

Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. Transaction Publishers.

González-Pernía, J. L., Jung, A., & Peña, I. (2015). Innovation-driven entrepreneurship in developing economies. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 27(9-10), 555–573.

Haeussler, C., Patzelt, H., & Zahra, S. A. (2012). Strategic alliances and product development in high technology new firms: The moderating effect of technological capabilities. Journal of Business Venturing, 27(2), 217–233.

Harrison, R. T., Cooper, S. Y., & Mason, C. M. (2004). Entrepreneurial activity and the dynamics of technology-based cluster development: the case of Ottawa. Urban Studies, 41(5-6), 1045–1070.

Hoang, H., & Antoncic, B. (2003). Network-based research in entrepreneurship, a critical review. Journal of Business Venturing, 18(2), 165–187.

Jantunen, A., Puumalainen, K., Saarenketo, S., & Kylaheiko, K. (2005). Entrepreneurial orientation, dynamic capabilities and international performance. Journal of International Entrepreneurship, 3(3), 223–243.

Kalergis, A. M., Lacerda, M., Rabinovich, G. A., & Rosenstein, Y. (2016). Challenges for scientists in Latin America. Trends in Molecular Medicine, 22(9), 743–745.

Katz, J. (2000). Structural change and labor productivity growth in Latin American manufacturing industries 1970-96. World Development, 28(9), 1583–1596.

Katz, J. (2001). Structural reforms and technological behaviour: The sources and nature of technological change in Latin America in the 1990s. Research Policy, 30(1), 1–19.

Keeble, D., Lawson, C., Moore, B., & Wilkinson, F. (1999). Collective learning processes, networking and ‘institutional thickness’ in the Cambridge region. Regional Studies, 33(4), 319–332.

Li, J., & Kozhikode, R. K. (2009). Developing new innovation models: Shifts in the innovation landscapes in emerging economies and implications for global R&D management. Journal of International Management, 15(3), 328–339.

Li, Y., Wang, P., & Liang, Y. (2015). Influence of entrepreneurial experience, alertness, and prior knowledge on opportunity recognition. Social Behavior and Personality, 43(9), 1575–1584.

Longhi, C. (1999). Networks, collective learning and technology development in innovative high technology regions: The case of Sophia-Antipolis. Regional Studies, 33(4), 333–342.

O’Reilly, C. A., & Tushman, M. L. (2004). The ambidextrous organization. Harvard Business Review, 82(4), 74-81.

O’Reilly, C. A., & Tushman, M. L. (2007). Ambidexterity as a dynamic capability: Resolving the innovator’s dilemma. Working Paper No. 07-088, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MA.

Owen-Smith, J., & Powell, W. W. (2004). Knowledge networks as channels and conduits: The effects of spillovers in the Boston biotechnology community. Organization Science, 15(1), 5–21.

Powell, W. W., Koput, K. W., & Smith, L. (1996). Interorganizational collaboration and the locus of innovation: Networks of learning in biotechnology. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(1), 116–145.

Rerup, C. (2005). Learning from past experience: Footnotes on mindfulness and habitual entrepreneurship. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 21(4), 451–472.

Salavisa, I., Sousa, C., & Fontes, M. (2012). Topologies of innovation networks in knowledge-intensive sectors: Sectoral differences in the access to knowledge and complementary assets through formal and informal ties. Technovation, 32(6), 380–399.

Shane, S. (2000). Prior knowledge and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities. Organisation Science, 11(4), 448–469.

Shane, S., & Venkataraman, S. (2000). The promise of entrepreneurship as a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 217–226.

Tang, J., Kacmar, K. M., & Busenitz, L. (2012). Entrepreneurial alertness in the pursuit of new opportunities. Journal of Business Venturing, 27(1), 77–94.

Teece, D. J. (2007). Explicating dynamic capabilities: The nature and microfoundations of (sustainable) enterprise performance. Strategic Management Journal, 28(13), 1319–1350.

Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., & Shuen, A. (1997) Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 18(7), 509–533.

Wang, C. L., & Chugh, H. (2014). Entrepreneurial learning: Past research and future challenges. International Journal of Management Reviews, 16(1), 24–61.

Wiklund, J., & Shepherd, D. (2003). Knowledge-based resources, entrepreneurial orientation, and the performance of small and medium-sized businesses. Strategic Management Journal, 24(13), 1307–1314.

Yli-Renko, H., Autio, E., & Sapienza, H. J. (2001). Social capital, knowledge acquisition, and knowledge exploitation in young technology-based firms. Strategic Management Journal, 22(6-7), 587–613.

Zahra, S. A., Sapienza, H. J., & Davidsson, P. (2006). Entrepreneurship and Dynamic Capabilities: A Review, Model and Research Agenda. Journal of Management, 43(4), 917–955