Está en la página 1de 21

Business History

Vol. 55, No. 1, January 2013, 928

The presence of entrepreneurial opportunity

Andrew Popp* and Robin Holt

University of Liverpool Management School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

Beginning in a critique of conceptualisations of entrepreneurial opportunity

dominant in economics and entrepreneurship studies we draw on both the
heterodox economics of G.L.S. Shackle and perspectives from phenomenology to
recast entrepreneurship as an imaginative act of making present unfolding
through time and lived experience. We develop both the critique and the
alternative perspective through a double reading of the case of T.E. Thomson and
Co., a merchant house established in Calcutta in 1834.
Keywords: entrepreneurial opportunity; merchant enterprise; Calcutta;
imagination; phenomenology

Entrepreneurship is celebrated for its creative dimension, its ability to make the world
anew. Studying the experience of entrepreneurship raises the question of origins; that
moment at which the old gives way as possibility emerges. This question is addressed
through a focus on the identification and pursuit of opportunities, and the insights,
conditions and actions associated with this identification and pursuit have become the
distinguishing features of entrepreneurial practice and studies.1 In exploring this
question of origins we wish to look to the relation the entrepreneurial opportunity
bears to the entrepreneur, the individual deemed capable of exploiting and bringing
them to fruition.
Where some studies into entrepreneurial opportunity focus on a single defined
starting point, a moment for decision and action, others consider structural
conditions containing and shaping the possibility for opportunity. Thus inquiries
extend from psychological, trait-based perspectives to analysis of the economic,
social, legal and technological environments in which opportunities are taken. What
often goes unanalysed along this continuum, however, is the experience of
opportunity recognition and pursuit. Typically the opportunity has already occurred
and its entrepreneurial realisation become the subject of retrospective, linear analysis
benefiting from the convenience of hindsight and already existing theories concerning
the influence of psychological or structural causes.2 This is for good reason. To
consider the process of entrepreneurship before an opportunity becomes a viable,
fully realised phenomenon suitable as an object of inquiry means investigating its

*Corresponding author. Email:

ISSN 0007-6791 print/ISSN 1743-7938 online

! 2013 Taylor & Francis
10 A. Popp and R. Holt

formation over time, aware of its frailty, its flux, its emergent quality. Using an
historical case we too begin with a focal sense of opportunity as a bright spot whose
resonance comes from its setting in time and space but seek to go beyond that point
by following the experience of its emergence within wider settings and from the
perspective of those for whom it appeared. Here, as well as understanding the
blending of opportunity and context, we concern ourselves with a dierent, more
imaginative sense of origin called making present. In doing so, we move away from
the idea of origin as a unitary moment of enlightened commencement by a person of
specific traits, or the mere outcome of structural forces, and instead conceive of it as a
constant interplay of person, becoming and place, set within the experiential flow of
The paper uses the entrepreneurial opportunity seized by the partnership of
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

John Shaw and Henry Crane when, in 1834, they established a new merchant house
in Calcutta.3 We have the benefit of hindsight, but use letters written by Shaw, Crane
and others to make sense of how an opportunity unfolded for them. Our method is to
read the case twice. First, following mainstream understandings of entrepreneurial
opportunity as something distinct and autonomous, if contextualised,4 we can isolate
the beginning of the venture and follow it through to successful fruition. This story
has a clean, linear sense, but, we argue, aords limited understanding of the
significance of time and the experience of context. Second, we re-tell the story of the
adventure from a perspective informed by the phenomenological concerns of
Spinosa et al.5 and the heterodox economics of G.L.S. Shackle.6 Here, we go in
search of a world where history comes into being, not a world where the whole of
history is complete and is merely revealed in successive stages to the human
consciousness.7 Equipped with these new understandings, we show an opportunity
emerging from the creative power of Shaw and Crane, and indivisible from their
ongoing, lived historical experience. Our aim is to re-conceptualise opportunity as a
processual experience of making present in which time matters and through which
entrepreneurship emerges as a revelatory, imaginative act of poetic power.8

Methods and sources

Studying entrepreneurial opportunities as processes rather than objects or events is
methodologically challenging, for once an opportunity has been made obvious to
us, it is impossible not to look at the past and not see it there.9 The entrepreneur is
reduced to a prescient progenitor following a hidden but linear path. As social
scientists reading an opportunity backward, from the vantage point of the unfolded
future we readily grasp for words such as discovery, recognition, or identification.
As soon as we attempt to read it forward into the opaqueness of the future, only
groping comes to mind.10 Prevalent conceptions of entrepreneurial opportunity,
collapsing . . . time into singular moments, and social science methods, proposing
questions only answerable in retrospect when the phenomenon under study is
inherently future-oriented, become inoperable. What is required is rich con-
temporaneous data that help us to understand what the entrepreneur does . . . from
within the world view that the entrepreneur holds.11 We propose the use of letters as
sources in which that groping forwards into an unknown future is captured in
John Shaw was a Wolverhampton based hardware factor. Between 1815 and
1848 he was in partnership with former employee, Henry Crane. This partnership in
Business History 11

1834 launched the Calcutta merchant house studied here. Our primary sources are
three collections of letters (epistoloria). The ShawWilkinson collection, covering
multiple generations of the families of John Shaw and his wife Elizabeth (nee
Wilkinson) and comprising 50 letters dated 17991831, is held in Wolverhampton
Archives and Local Studies. A second collection comprises approximately 150 letters
between multiple members of the Shaw family and is held in the Library of the
University of Birmingham.
In addition to the ShawWilkinson collection, Wolverhampton Archives and
Local Studies houses extensive business records relating to this partnership and its
antecedent and successor businesses, including correspondence (both internal to the
firm and with outside parties, including suppliers, customers, other merchants, etc.)
related to the Indian business.
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

The collections are complementary. The business correspondence recounts events

unfolding from a point in 1827 to the establishment of the house in 1834; they show
the partnership acquiring a range of knowledge, information, know-how, contacts
and other resources crucial to successful launch; and they lay out in sequence the
thoughts, decisions and actions of figurative actors. Thus they can be used to form
an interpretive map of the entrepreneurial process at work. Strategy, thought-
processes, motivations, aims and objectives are rarely explicitly expressed but may be
fairly inferred through close textual readings. They allow for exploration of the
discovery and exploitation of an entrepreneurial opportunity. The other two
epistolaria are comprised of private, intimate letters that might be said to give us a
sense of the world view held by the entrepreneur.
Working inductively, towards the theoretical representation sought by
Dimov,13 has led us to an appreciation of certain qualities of letters as source
material that disrupt any comfortable belief that we can tell the story as it
happened. Here we highlight, first, their emergence out of relationships resistant to
too literal readings; second, their radically open sense of time, the immediate and
distant are not readily disentangled; third, that they are as much expressive as they
are descriptive, thus they are read as acts of reflection and dwelling, of enaction, and
of imaginative, creative revealing; and fourth, that as objects they seem valuable,
eliciting from us as researchers sentiments of care and concern.

T.E. Thomson and Co., 182734: a case study in entrepreneurial opportunity

Entrepreneurship studies have been defined as the examination of how, by whom,
and with what eects opportunities to create future goods and services are
discovered, evaluated, and exploited.14 Opportunities exist because of shifts in
technological, market or knowledge structures, and entrepreneurs exist by possessing
certain traits or cognitive capacities, and the coming together through pursuit is
made manifest in the creation of ventures. If Dimov is right that it is the aspiring or
nascent entrepreneurs that are most appealing theoretically and practically in the
domain of entrepreneurship studies,15 then how useful is this view of the
entrepreneurial opportunity and capability as pre-existing in helping us to
understand the unfolding of entrepreneurship as an imaginative process embedded
in historical context and the flow of time?
Following Schumpeter, Shane and Venkataraman find market disequilibrium a
major source of entrepreneurial opportunity; as Casson notes, opportunities arise
on a regular basis when economic conditions are volatile.16 Empirically, Chapman,
12 A. Popp and R. Holt

Jones and Matheson Connell all also stress moments of crisis and the vacuums that
they engendered as crucial to the emergence of British merchant enterprise in Asia.17
For Chapman, the managing agency system that dominated British merchant
enterprise in the region down to the final quarter of the century could be traced
[to] . . . the five great agency houses that were founded towards the end of the
eighteenth century and became insolvent in 18305.18 For all that it was very
volatile this was also, as Jones notes literally a world of opportunities, especially for
British merchants, backed by industrialisation and Empire.19 This was particularly
true of India, where British merchant enterprise had been initially conditioned by the
existence of the East India Company [EIC]. The demise of the EICs monopoly of
trade to India in 1813 revealed an environment comprising both rich potential and a
lack of institutional development, such as formal capital markets.20
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

When Shaw and Crane created the firm of T.E. Thomson and Co. in Calcutta in
1834 they entered and exploited such disequilibrium. The preceding four years had
seen the collapse of all existing British merchant houses based in the city, a contagion
triggered by the failure of John Palmer and Company in 1830.21 These events
signalled the existence of an entrepreneurial opportunity, not least because the
collapse was specific to individual firms rather than due to the disappearance of a
need for intermediation between British and Indian markets. Hence Shaw and
Cranes opportunity aligns with what Shane and Venkataraman cite as the second of
Druckers three categories of opportunity: the exploitation of market ineciencies
that result from information asymmetries, as occurs across time and geography.22 If,
however, the source of this opportunity appears obvious, questions nonetheless
remain. Why were Shaw and Crane able to exploit this opportunity? How, in relation
to this case, can we explain the sources of opportunity, the processes of their
evaluation and exploitation, and the identity of the individuals involved?
Recurring to the work of both Shane and Venkataraman and Casson, key
issues would appear to be: information (in terms of access and cost), availability
of necessary resources and individuals dispositions and perceptions.23 As Shane
and Venkataraman note, some people obtain information before others about
resources lying fallow, new discoveries being made, or new markets opening up.24
Shaw and Crane had been exporting manufactures to Calcutta since 1827. This
arms-length involvement left them well placed to observe the progress of the
turmoil set in train by the collapse of Palmer without themselves becoming
engulfed in its aftermath.
Shane and Venkataraman argue that ability to notice entrepreneurial opportu-
nities is dependent on access to information that is distributed according to the
idiosyncratic life circumstances of each person.25 Shaw and Cranes ongoing but
distant involvement in Indian trade left them free to watch the ground swept clear of
competitors and, perhaps, to conclude that prior business models had proved fragile.
From an orthodox position the entrepreneurial opportunity existed objectively in the
re-ordering of market conditions consequent upon the events of 183034. The
condition of noticing, interpreting and responding to this opportunity was specific to
Shaw and Crane, no other two people having access to the same combination of
information as they did.26 How had access to this information been secured? Their
seven-year history of involvement in trade to Calcutta was both dependent on and
helped generate information germane to the 1834 launch, as a conventional historical
narrative helps us to understand. Shaw and Cranes entry into Indian trade was
initiated by a letter received in mid-1827 from Sheeld merchants Joseph Rodgers
Business History 13

and Sons, with whom Shaw and Crane had longstanding connections. Rodgers and
Sons had:

[the] pleasure to introduce our friends Mr Rawson and Mr Holdsworth who have an
establishment in Calcutta and are visiting Wolverhampton for the purpose of obtaining
consignments to be sent out there. We have done some business through their hands and
have always found them exceedingly punctual and attentive to our interests.27

Though focussing on questions of eciency, Rodgers and Sons go on to note that

Rawson and Holdsworth were highly reputable. Rogers continued:

[s]hould you be inclined to make a treat in that Quarter we have no doubt you would
find it a very profitable business if proper selections are sent out and we should be very
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

glad to give you the advantage of our knowledge and experience in the trade as we find
the amount of Sheeld manufacturers is as much as we can attend to and there is now a
probability of a great increase in demand for Wolverhampton goods.28

As Casson suggests, and empirical work concurs,29 networks are often vital to the
supply of information concerning entrepreneurial opportunities and it was clearly
in the language of opportunities that Rodgers framed the initial approach.
Throughout the remainder of 1827 first Rodgers and then Rawson and Holdsworth
coached the novice partnership of Shaw and Crane through the intricacies of
international trade: suggesting values of consignments; how to select, pack and
present goods; the paper work required; how to determine prices; the payment of
freight and shipping charges; introductions to shipping and insurance agents.
Eventually, in November 1827, Shaw and Crane sent their first consignment to India,
insured to the value of 800. Rawson and Holdsworth hoped the present adventure
may lead to a lasting and mutually advantageous correspondence.30 Shaw and
Crane had seized their first opportunity on the path to becoming international
In addition to external resources, such as contacts, Shaw and Crane were also
endowed with their own skills and business insight. Shane and Venkataraman note
how prior experiences create mental schemas that facilitate the recognition of
entrepreneurial opportunities as new information comes to light.32 Though without
significant experience of international trade Shaw and Crane had extensive
experience in the successful operation of long-distance trading networks. Shaw
had been in business on his own account since at least 1805 and in partnership with
Crane since 1815. Through long involvement in domestic factoring the firm
developed capabilities and competitive advantages transferable to the Indian market.
They were adept at winning new markets and customers, at the monitoring and
oversight of vital but absent employees (commercial travellers), in the maintenance
of customer relations, in the control of lines of credit, and in planning,
systematisation and accounting. In particular, located in the heart of the English
Black Country industrial district, the firm had deep and intimate knowledge of and
relations with potential suppliers, guaranteeing their ability to source desirable
products and match demand with supply.33
These prior experiences and capabilities shaped Shaw and Cranes responses in
ways that both contrasted and aligned with others operating in the same field. The
most powerful contrast is with Palmer and Company and the other agency houses
that had collapsed in the crisis. Palmer was brought down by debt and high-risk
lending. Moved by a sense a mercantile noblesse oblige, Palmer had exercised
14 A. Popp and R. Holt

a policy of status-enhancing liberality. As defaults grew during the 1820s, the firms
position became ever more exposed, exposure worsened by cavalier attitudes toward
accounting and oversight, by distrustful relationships with London correspondents,
and by increasing commitments to illiquid assets.34 The contrast with the modesty
and restraint of Shaw and Crane is marked.
Others came to similar conclusions as to the causes of Palmers downfall. As
early as 1831, James Matheson agreed to establish his nephew in Calcutta on the
express understanding that the house is one of mere agency, and that above all you
must abstain from speculating.35 But if Matheson was backed by a far greater
capital than Shaw and Crane they were not the only small firm to enter the field. The
end of the EIC monopoly in 1813 had signalled the influx of small commission
houses, often as agents of merchants and manufacturers and a the new generation
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

houses were investing even before the . . . crisis [of the 1830s] was over.36 With many
of these small new firms, Shaw and Crane shared a commitment to trading on their
own account (rather than consignment) but they lacked the links to metropolitan or
provincial elites common to most. What further distinguished them was the decision
to combine merchanting and retail functions in the same concern. They met
competition on the ground in India then a competition shaped by the prior
development of British merchant enterprise in the region but were able to find a
way to dierentiate themselves by drawing on their own prior business experience.
At a personal level there is evidence of a strong aective friendship and sociability
between the principals leading not only to mutual trust but also understanding of and
alignment between each others strategic priorities and life goals.37 Here they again
contrast with those few British merchant enterprises not rooted in clan and kinship,
which tended to experience very high turnover of partnerships.38 Shaw and Cranes
relationship was particularly well cemented. Experience of long-term success might
be posited as generating psychological dispositions, such as self-ecacy and strong
internal loci of control, indicated by Shane and Venkataraman as important to and
predictive of further entrepreneurial action.39 In addition, Shaw was by 1827 in his
mid-forties (and thus by 1834 in his late forties), maturity, leading to better
judgement, being an important entrepreneurial quality.40 Prior experience and
learning had created in Shaw and Crane mental schema, dispositions and traits that
allowed them to recognise the events taking place in Calcutta from 1830 as creating
an opportunity they were uniquely positioned to exploit.
Evidence demonstrates the firms sustained involvement in trade to India, and
indeed its expansion to other destinations in South-East Asia, in the period 1827
to 1834 and we again posit processes of learning taking place as the partners
deepened their experience of international trade and of demand profiles in Indian
markets. This learning, however, remained mediated, as a letter from Rawson and
Holdsworth, dated 8 October 1834, indicates:

[o]ur house in London Messrs. Rawson, Norton and Co., advise having received a letter
from Messrs. Rogers and Sons, stating that it was your wish to extend your business to
India . . . We can only assure you that should you confide your interests to our
establishments either here or in India, the greatest attention shall be paid to them and
nothing will be wanting on their part to make the trade a lucrative one to you.41

It seems clear that Shaw and Crane continued receiving signals that resources were
lying fallow in India in the form of unmet demand. Sending goods from a distance
was one thing, setting up in a foreign market another. Regrettably, records do not
Business History 15

allow us access to the decision-making processes within the Shaw and Crane
partnership but there can be little doubt they moved quickly and decisively for on 7
November 1834 they concluded an agreement with one Joseph Anderson. The
agreement opened boldly, declaring:

[W]hereas the said John Shaw and Henry Crane have lately determined to open an
establishment in Calcutta in the East Indies for the sale of Ironmongery, Hardware and
other goods and merchandise and have agreed with their late traveller Thomas Edward
Thomson to manage and conduct the same as their agent who will forthwith embark
with a cargo of goods for that purpose.42

Thomson embarked from Liverpool as early as 12 November of that year. The

opportunity has been recognised, evaluated and seized.
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

In concluding this section we return to Shane and Venkataraman and Casson in

order to see whether they help us to understand the empirical data and, indeed,
whether the data validate the utility of the theory. First, as predicted by theory,
disequilibrium or volatility acted as a source of entrepreneurial opportunity, arising
as a possibility of supplying existing but now dormant markets in new ways, and
resting in information asymmetries resulting from geographical distance. The
individuals best positioned to take advantage of this opportunity were those whose
idiosyncratic life circumstances enabled them to overcome those asymmetries. Those
individuals, in turn, were motivated to act because existing mental schema,
experiences and dispositions, combined with ongoing and new flows of information,
led them to make a positive evaluation of their chances of success (an evaluation
that proved correct in the long run). Finally, information, as a resource, located
both within and outside the firm, proved crucial to the process of opportunity
exploitation. Thus, all three hypotheses derived from the work of Shane and
Venkataraman appear to be supported by the case: entrepreneurial activity occurred
because there existed an opportunity to make profits combined with individuals
equipped to recognise, evaluate and act upon that opportunity.43
Yet we are left troubled by this telling, by its smoothness, its failure to show the
eddies of disturbance in lived experience and, especially, by the way it elides the
phenomenological question of the experiential relationship between the opportu-
nity and the beings John Shaw and Henry Crane. In theoretically isolating
opportunities, personal dispositions and structures as things held in relation to one
another the analysis presents a smooth world in which the irreducible doubt of
those involved, the uncertainties of events, the experience of frustration and
excitement, are all lost.44 We read back from the occurrence of the opportunity to
trace out an eschatology of necessary, objective conditions by which it occurred,
without once questioning the nature of such origins, how they came about. Context
becomes a mere stage, and the unfolding of time a simple, if necessary, preliminary
to outcomes, when it should be that in their unfolding, open-ended action that
opportunities can be considered enacted or created.45
This telling of the seizure of an opportunity leaves us with a venture but little
reverting to their language, with its questing, exploratory undertones of Shaw and
Cranes adventure. Did Shaw and Crane simply stand outside the opportunity to
watch, measure and judge it, before, finally, at the last, acting to exert themselves
upon and influence it? We need to return to theory and consider once again the
grounding of opportunity, what kind of being it has, how it originates, and the
relationship those qualities have with the entrepreneur.
16 A. Popp and R. Holt

Opportunity as objective phenomenon

Shane and Venkataraman are clear; entrepreneurial opportunities are objective
phenomena existing independently of the entrepreneurs exploiting them.46 They
exist in defined populations of possibility irrespective of recognition. Casson shares
this understanding, stating his approach . . . retains the notion of a given set of
possibilities that is, a set of possibilities which is exogenous to any decisions made
by the entrepreneur. The project set is fixed for all time, and is the same for every
First, what understandings of the passage of time are implied by a view of
entrepreneurial opportunities as having prior objective existence? Shane and
Venkataraman are clear; opportunities are prior to entrepreneurs, they exist not
only independently of but also before the entrepreneur: To have entrepreneurship,
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

you must first have entrepreneurial opportunities.48 Note, too, Cassons assertion
that the project set is fixed for all time.49 Thus, we are asked to imagine a finite set
of pre-existing entrepreneurial opportunities advancing towards would-be entrepre-
neurs in an orderly set of pre-existing future possibilities. The future consists of
knowable opportunities arrayed before a separate, observing and choosing subject.
The future is also brought close in (the finite set refers to technologies and markets
that make sense in a near future in which subjects interests and concerns are
assumed as a broad constant). Time, explicitly, matters not. Hence the entrepreneur
is primarily defined by his or her performative readiness, a requisite alertness by
which any opportunity is realised. Under these categories history becomes
attenuated, a determining series of events whose investigation equates to fitting
together identified variables and already known axioms concerning human
behaviour working to knowable future outcomes.
Thus, this conception of the nature of the being of entrepreneurial opportunities
also has implications for understanding the being of the entrepreneur, who becomes
curiously passive, waiting for time to pass through or over him or her. We can see the
diculties this creates as Casson struggles to deal with questions of imagination and
creativity. He first rejects those who suggest entrepreneurs create opportunities
through the exercise of their imaginations before, nonetheless, admitting that some
entrepreneurs are more imaginative than others. Does this give them more agency?
Does it make them active genuinely historical agents? No. Imagination can only be
admitted if it is restricted to a specific form, namely the ability to visualize the
overall structure of the project set.50 Yet more clearly, even the most imaginative of
entrepreneurs, though they are able to visualize more of the possible projects than
the less imaginative . . . cannot visualize projects that do not already exist as part of
the project set.51 Imagination, and with it the entrepreneur, is reduced to a simple
derivative eect of objective opportunity. The question of the origins of opportunity
is again sidestepped.

Imagination and a non-determinant history of entrepreneurial origins

We are not alone in registering scepticism about the concept of the objective
existence of entrepreneurial opportunities. Sarasvathy suggests that far from
discovering existing opportunities, entrepreneurs fabricate opportunities starting
with who they are, what they are and whom they know.52 From this basis in
intellectual, human and social capital possible new markets are explored without
necessarily being foreseen as anything more concrete than a possibility. The
Business History 17

entrepreneur works within loose rules of thumb and a reckoning of aordable

loss in order to experiment with what is available. Similarly, Hjorth decries a
tendency to see opportunities as being simply there to be recognized and
discovered, a convenient black boxing of the complexities of the geneses of
opportunities so that the event can be represented in classical empiricist language
of opportunity discovery or opportunity recognition.53 Rather than isolate
opportunity as something separate, it is better appreciated as the experience of
context-specific constraints out of which, in response, might arise new
possibilities.54 These authors evoke a fluid appreciation of opportunity in which
the entrepreneur is involved not just as a rational chooser but as an implicated,
creative force giving potentially new forms to a life whose shape he or she finds
as anything but historically given. The problem then becomes how, if the
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

opportunity is vague, localised, embedded and worked at during its inception and
pursuit in individual cases, can it conceptually function as an empirically
identifiable origin of the entrepreneurial condition?55 Our response is twofold; we
reconsider what we mean by imagination, and then by origin, and in so doing we
reconfigure opportunity as a continual making present.
In allowing that it is tempting to argue that the entrepreneur creates new
possibilities through the exercise of imagination Casson alludes to the work of
economist G.L.S. Shackle.56 Tempted, it is Shackles work we wish to pursue,
specifically what he identifies as the paradox of decision. It is a paradox present in
mainstream models of entrepreneurial opportunity, in which the entrepreneur has
only to evaluate and select from the knowable set of pre-existing opportunities.
Moreover, given that this selection will be guided by meta-rational choice theory, the
choice is made for the entrepreneur before he/she has ever considered it. The
outcome is contained in the pre-conditions; history runs sui generis to the experience
of decision. Prevalent assumptions regarding the completeness and knowableness of
choice sets and of perfect information and unbounded rationality, or, conversely, of
a world without any predictable order, render decision and choice meaningless: thus,
in a determinist world, decision is illusory; . . . in a world of certainty, it is
empty; . . . in a world without discernible order, it is powerless.57 Shackle rebels
against the inevitable implications:

A fully structured history leaves nothing to be created, nothing to be done by human

decision, no room for the truly and strictly inceptive thought . . . History may indeed be
fully structured, but if so it is not interesting to talk about decision . . . Complete
structure, . . . makes of decision the passive vehicle of the commands of circumstance
passed on to compose fresh circumstances.58

Logic suggests that, in these schemas, decision . . . is not choice.59 The only escape
from determined choice is through error, misjudgement or wilful folly. Relating this
to the question of entrepreneurial origins, the entrepreneurs role is reduced to
scanning the environment with the requisite alertness for the future opportunities
contained in given conditions. In revolt, Shackle wishes:

[t]o find a scheme of thought about the basic nature of human aairs which will include
decision in the meaning we give to this word in our unself-conscious, intuitive, instinctive
attitude to life, where without examination or heart-searching we take it for granted that
a responsibility lies upon us for our acts; that these acts are in a profound sense creative,
inceptive, and the source of historical novelty; that each act is, as it were, the
unconnected starting-point of a new thread in the tapestry which time is weaving.60
18 A. Popp and R. Holt

Having developed rigorously grounded arguments concerning the paradoxes of

decision and choice within determinant views of history, Shackle considers a non-
determinant view of an unfolding history and the role within it of creativity and
imagination. His first impulse is an instinctive one:
What . . . if we elect to follow intuition and the universal tacit assumption of ordinary
discourse and practical life, and take for granted that decision can be inceptive, are we to
suppose about the nature of history?61

It is important we pay attention to the language Shackle uses; that inceptive goes
beyond merely choosing or deciding between options but instead fastens on the idea
of initiating that which is completely new, that which Shackle calls the idea of
essential novelty in history.62 This inceptive capacity is personal and thus outcomes
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

are not the necessary results from pre-determined conditions but instead thoughts,
so our escape from determinism is to suppose that, in the most essential and strictest
sense, these thoughts originate in the decision-makers mind.63
Crucially, given our concern to show that time matters in the doing of
entrepreneurship (and in its study), and in the light of the deep atemporality of the
understanding of entrepreneurial opportunities advanced within the mainstream,
Shackle situates his arguments on imagination and decision in relation to time and
the making of history. He argues that if a mans experiences and imagined outcomes
are in his mind then where are they in time? They must . . . be in his now. For there is
no other place in time as he experiences it.64 Thus, in marked contrast to the fixed,
timeless opportunity sets of Casson and Shane and Venkataraman, we are instead
asked to consider a world in which the need to decide interrupts a process of
continuing invention, that is of imaginative creation that occurs in the solitary
present moment.65 Ultimately, this imaginative creation of outcomes for each
action, [occurs] in a stream whose ending cannot be discerned at the moment when
the necessity of deciding cuts o the process.66 So just as entrepreneurial
opportunities are not simply taken but imaginatively made, so they must be created
within the flow of time. It is this unending flow of time that renders the rational
determined choosing of mainstream perspectives on entrepreneurial opportunity an
The emphasis on imagination is not capricious but logically necessary, for once
we accept historical time [backwardly irrevocable and uncertain into the future]
into our analysis, we cannot reasonably assume knowledge about future actual
outcomes. Under these conditions, our epistemic claims must be limited . . . to
the imagination of individuals as to anticipated outcomes.67 We find echoes of
Shackles insights in the work of Hjorth, who urges a more historical approach to
entrepreneurship, because, doing so, one may

arrive at the conclusion that opportunities are rather created in an ensemble of

time . . . All opportunities have a genesis: the process of trying out, and relating, which
place you in a position where you can transform occasions into opportunities and
opportunities into actualities.68

Ultimately, for Shackle, decision including the entrepreneurial decision

becomes the pursuit of imaginative experience and an expression of our intuitive
assurance of interior power of our own to help in the making of history.69 Creative,
inceptive, imaginative decision-making, the conjuring of entrepreneurial opportu-
nity, is firmly located in time as an unending flow in a world where there is action
Business History 19

and not merely the illusion of action: a world where history comes into being.70 The
entrepreneurial decision-maker becomes an active rather than a passive figure.
Creative imagination is clearly not in itself enough. How does the entrepreneur
turn the imagining of possible outcomes into actual ones? In exploring this question
we turn to the work of Spinosa et al., who emphasise as essential to entrepreneurship
the skill for regularly and as a matter of course finding yourself and the world anew,
a skill they articulate as history-making, understood as something that changes the
way in which we understand and deal with ourselves and with things.71 We are again
directed towards a projecting (rather than determined) and revelatory (rather than
calculative) engagement with the world.
In elaborating this notion of everyday history-making Spinosa et al. draw on
Heideggers notion of worldhood (comprised of equipment, purposes and
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

identities), to posit the notion of the disclosive space that is any set of practices
for dealing with oneself, other people, and things that produces a relatively self-
contained web of meanings.72 It is from within these disclosive spaces that
entrepreneurs act to realise imagined opportunities. Change occurs typically on the
basis of existing styles or modes of practice. So, whilst styles [how practices fit
together] act as the basis on which practices are conserved they are also the basis
on which new practices are developed because it is from within these styles that
people notice and act creatively on disharmonies in existing practices, disharmonies
resolved through involved experimentation.73
It is important to ask what such a skill amounts to, for as Shackle points out,
imagination as free untrammelled fancy has no relevance for decision.74 With
what are entrepreneurs complicit in the work of history-making through
opportunity creation? How are they causally implicated in the world? Here we
turn to Heideggers essay The Question Concerning Technology, which begins with
a discussion of the four elements of causality traditionally identified in philosophy:
causa materialis, the material from which a thing is formed; silver in the example of
a chalice followed by Heidegger; causa formalis, the form into which a thing enters;
a stem and curved shaped receptacle; causa finalis, the end to which it is formed, a
sacred rite; and the causa eciens, that which brings about the eect; the
silversmith.75 Returning to the Greek roots of cause, he finds this condition one of
mutual indebtedness. Matter, form, end and agency silver, receptacle, ritual and
metalwork are co-responsible for existence, with the third, the end or telos,
above all responsible, being that which in advance confines the chalice within the
realm of consecration.76 Here we think of the forward thinking emphasised by
Shackle that which in advance, working with experience and custom and ends,
imagined an outcome.
What interests us here is how the fourth element in this cycle of co-responsibility
for the bringing about of something the agent is not cast as an external source of
influence, but remains entirely implicated with the other elements. In Heideggers
example the silversmith does not simply work the silver into a chalice, rather, his
indebtedness lies in carefully considering and bringing together the three other
elements and in doing so bringing something forward into appearance:
The four ways of being responsible bring something into appearance. They let it come
forth into presencing [Anwesen]. They set it free to that place and so start it on its way,
namely into complete arrival. The principal characteristic of being responsible is this
starting something on its way to arrival . . . an occasioning or an inducing to go
20 A. Popp and R. Holt

We are reminded of Shackles concern for that which is inceptive, a bringing forth
(das Entbergen). And what is brought forth is not something complete, but a
beginning, a new world is being disclosed, an origin, whose purpose, or end, is only
realised through future use (telos).
Though chalice-making is perhaps some way removed from the quotidian world
of enterprise, we find a resonance between Heideggers understanding of the
making of something and the realisation of opportunity. What is provocative about
understanding opportunity as a condition of mutual indebtedness is not only its
being conceptualised relationally, but non-hierarchically; neither an objectivity of
opportunity nor the subjectivity of an agent originate the entrepreneurial process.
Conceptualising opportunity as the allowing of what is not yet present to
come forward discounts the possibility of an objectively existing entrepreneurial
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

opportunity awaiting its timely discovery without retreating into the idea of
sovereign agency and the mind.
It is this making present that allows us to make sense of what Spinosa et al.
mean when they talk of entrepreneurs creating worlds anew. They take from
Heidegger a sense of how stratagems for entrepreneurial disclosure, the creation of
opportunity, are deeply rooted in common practices and skills into which we are
socialised and that in turn produce people, selves, and worlds.78 The silversmith
creates a chalice because chalice-making makes sense, because silver is available and
evokes the timeless, otherworldly conditions of gods with whom humans seek
communion in rituals. More prosaically, the entrepreneur remains familiar with
orthodox ways of being and the availability of resources, yet in broaching dierent
practices perhaps, or finding him or herself on the edges of habit, becomes sensitive
to disharmonies within existing worlds of practice. Thus creating new worlds is the
life of skilful disclosing . . . is a life of intense engagement an engagement that is
open to the anomalies that occur in our lives and worlds.79 More specifically, this
disclosing of new worlds can be eected through three stratagems: articulation,
cross-appropriation and reconfiguration. Articulation is acts that help us to retrieve
a way of dealing with ourselves that has lost its prominence and relevance . . . and
finding a new way of making it worthwhile.80 Cross-appropriation is the bringing of
practices into contexts that could not generate them, but in which they are useful.81
Finally, reconfiguration emerges from all those playful or marginal practices that
seem not aimed at increasing productivity, truth, maturity, quality, or fall under any
of the other terms that signify seriousness.82
In summation, working imaginatively and with a set of practices and styles, alert
to anomalies that suggest but do not determine opportunities, entrepreneurs envision
ways in which the world around them might be re-shaped. Using a battery of
stratagems that draw practically on accrued experiences they set about attempting to
make those visions more concrete but with an awareness that the future is far from
assured or knowable.

The presencing of T.E. Thomson and Co.

Returning to the case, we sit with John Shaw as he reflects on this new adventure on
which he and Crane had embarked:
It is rather uncanny one of the ministers we have with us also had been a missionary at
Calcutta very lately and has given me a great deal of information respecting that place.
Bye the bye we have this week had despatches from Thomson for the first time and am
Business History 21

happy to say both he and Anderson are quite well[. H]e writes in most excellent spirits
[and] seems most sanguine as to what his adventure has done and as to future
prospects[. He] has already sold two thirds of his cargo and sends us [a] very
considerable order which he begs me to send forward without delay as he shall have
nothing to sell by the time they arrive. Desires we will send them two more young men
similar to the ones he has got with whom he is well pleased. He has got one of the best
positions for a shop and a store in all Calcutta directly opposite the Government House
for which he pays 100 rupees a month in other words about one hundred and thirty
pounds a year. A new field for trade is open there and [he is] quite elated with success.
Hope he may not be too sanguine. He has sent us orders which will amount to I should
think six to eight thousand but as this is such an unexpected sum I think it will be well to
send about half for present. I do believe we have let open the finest field for commercial
pursuits that we could have thought of as such a concern is not known in that place and
altogether new as to its character and operation.83
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

We have quoted at length from this letter from Shaw to his wife to give a sense of
how, in attempting to review the initiating phase of his new enterprise, he cannot
help but carry on projecting forward imaginatively from amid the habitual concerns
and solicitudes of daily life. The quotation captures some of the emotions John was
feeling; there is a blending of hope and excitement, of curiosity and an awareness of
the limitations of his knowledge, of anxiety and caution, and of a sense of the
uncanniness of life. The sense of the uncanny catches too at something it is very
important that we grasp: the sheer strangeness of what they were doing. Two middle-
aged men from the English Midlands establishing themselves in India? It is clear
from the information gladly gleaned from the missionaries that John had almost no
meaningful knowledge of Calcuttas topography. This ignorance probably extended
likewise to climate, habits, customs and culture. India was terra incognita, and the
adventure a direct feeling. Sanguinity and expectation meet something akin to
pessimism in a battle to judge outcomes that remain unknown and unknowable.
Most telling though is how he understands the origins of the movement he, Crane
and Thomson have set going: it was clear to John that this novel firm, of a type
altogether new as to its character combining as it did merchanting and retailing
functions and thus an imaginative entrepreneurial act disclosive of new worlds, was
something we . . . have thought of. The statement is clear: this is something we have
created. Yet it was not known, it was the creation of a beginning: what was this field
that was being let open?
With what impulses, materials, forms and constraints did Shaw and Crane work in
this creative act? What was the nature of the disclosive space within which they
worked; with what styles did they work? In giving careful consideration to what they
might do, Shaw and Crane were working, in part, with forms, materials and
purposeful constraints they knew well. To trade and exchange, to circulate
commodities, cash and credit were their craft, a craft they had been learning and
practising over many decades; but in a new context it emerged in forms they felt
entirely novel in Shackles terms this thread they were weaving as history unfolded
created possibility, it was not pre-ordained. Yet nor was it something conjured purely
from imagination. Palmer did fail in 1830. The other British houses did follow Palmer
into failure over the next four years. The markets of supply and demand between
Britain and Calcutta were broken and dislocated, leaving a yawning space. But what
they did with it was to bring forth something unique and particular to them using those
qualities, skills and dispositions that they brought with them from within the disclosive
space of practices and styles they inhabited they possessed distinct imagined future
22 A. Popp and R. Holt

skeins.84 The economic events of 1830 to 1834, indeed of all those preceding those
tumultuous years, perhaps opened up some of this space but they in no sense contained
or determined this or any other potential outcome. It could not have been read from
the conditions that obtained in 1830 or even in 1834; that it might appear so is only an
eect of the problem of retrospectivity as is the reverse reading that Shaw and Crane
were possessed of an especial commercial agency through which they were destined to
become international factors. Shaw and Crane could have made other choices (most
obviously, simply to continue exporting to India through third parties), each of which
would have been equally dependent on an imaginative projection forward into an
unknown and unknowable future. Throughout this story is a mutual indebtedness in
which materials, ends and forms are brought into a new arrangement by human beings
who have no real sense of where anything will end up; they are not just turning the
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

pages of history, but writing them. Here their agency matters hugely, but it is not an
origin; it is co-responsible with the other causal elements.
To evoke such co-responsibility we might return to Shaws letters, where we find
him sometimes in a settled, habitual and perhaps even enervated mood. Recall how
Spinosa et al. suggest that innovative entrepreneurs are particularly adept at noticing
and holding on to anomalous situations and then bringing those anomalies to bear
on tasks, problems and conditions. Entrepreneurs sense the potential relationship
between the anomaly and some domain of human activity and from that discern and
test new understandings. A crucial feature of the world within which Shaw and
Crane were working immediately prior to the Indian adventure, as conveyed by
Shaws letters, was its stability. By 1834 John Shaw had been in business on his own
account for almost three decades (since 1805) and he had been in partnership with
Henry Crane for nearly two decades (since 1815). Certainly the business had grown
from the early days and after struggles and trials Shaw had grown if not rich then
comfortable, but the business had also long ceased to change and develop. It had
fallen into patterns and routines. Ambition, and striving, so evident in early letters,
testament to the way in which trade was something confrontational and dicult
against which he was thrown and sometimes felt battered by, seemed to have faltered
and faded. In the later letters his language had shifted in tone, settling into a more
quiescent voice characterised by reminiscence, nostalgia and a pressing realisation of
the elapse of time and of life. From within the settled spaces of middle age,
anomalous with his younger questing self, Shaw moved, not compelled by want or
dearth, towards something of greater inherent risk. This was not something he
needed to do, nor was it something that could be done blithely. His skill as a factor
was deep enough for it to have become mundane, the stimulus of learning
diminishing. The origin arises from within this familiarity with material, form and
end, the gathering of which might be done anew.
Analysing this doing anew with more conceptual rigour by identifying
stratagems for entrepreneurial opportunity creation, we can position Shaw and
Cranes Indian adventure as, first, an example of articulation, defined as acts that
help us to retrieve a way of dealing with ourselves that has lost its prominence and
relevance . . . and finding a new way of making it worthwhile.85 Shaw and Crane, in
founding Thomson and Co. in 1834, are returning to and rearticulating the drive,
ambition and struggle that characterised their independence and entrepreneurship
many years earlier. That such an approach to life could be made worthwhile and
relevant again is given expression in his letters from the period, which we have seen
to begin again to take delight in the doing of something new, even dangerous. What
Business History 23

seemed important again was not a known eect (profit) of his business acumen,
which indeed could not be known, a fact of which John shows he is all too aware, but
instead the doing and the attempt. As Shackle argues, in order to best understand the
creative impulse in entrepreneurs, we need to think not about outcomes, which as
imagined possibilities are both unknowable and unlistable, but:

Instead of ends, let us speak of success . . . mens imagination shows them more often,
not places to get to, but directions in which to travel . . . Men do not know what results
they can achieve with the means at their disposal . . . the technical routes of approach not
given to be endlessly imagined. It is in the imagining of these routes, each mans
technical objectives, that men can be freely creative, that they can be inspired.86

For John, Calcutta emerged historically from anomalies between current and past
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

selves and rearticulated something that had once seemed to him meaningful and
worthwhile and might again provide a new avenue of development. It is the novelty,
the sudden, almost surprising presence of something altogether new, not the success
that it might promise, that seems most to excite him.
At the same time, in order to eect this articulation Shaw and Crane put into play
a process of cross-appropriation; the bringing of practices into contexts that could
not generate them, but in which they are useful, taking what they knew of trade,
commerce and retailing, of goods and wants, of supply and demand, learnt over
many years in England and transferring it to India.87 In doing so they could take
forward with them styles and modes of practice learnt in domestic markets; dealing
with risk, assessing demand and how it might be met, making sure organisation and
coordination work, and making them new, strange, by transferring them to a context
that was alien and to them almost unknown. Out of this comes reconfiguration, the
unconcealing of practices of internationalised trade for Shaw and Crane, and of the
use of factored goods amongst customers in Calcutta and beyond, the changing
relationship people have with cookware and buckles and buttons just as King
Gillette, in an example used by Spinosa et al., not only reconfigured peoples
relationship with the razor or even the practice of shaving but also, however
marginally, with a wider way of being in the world such that disposability becomes
almost a virtue. Through their novel endeavour, Shaw and Crane could oer
consumers in India an array of goods through which they might live life dierently,
even better by 1841 the firm could boast a neatly printed catalogue running to
nearly 40 closely printed pages and listing, it seems, every household good that could
be imagined as necessary. The needful consumer could with a single purchase even
equip a whole household whether for a single person or an entire family simply
by selecting one the various complete and dizzingly comprehensive packages
oered. Shaw and Cranes innovative enterprise created a fresh, previously unseen
way for the newly arrived expatriate to set themselves up in a fully fledged Indian
establishment, with terms and conditions set out in clear and simple printed form at
a time when bargaining and haggle were still the norm.88 Far from simply
conforming to the gap left by the collapse of Palmer and the other merchant houses,
Shaw and Crane rethought what trade with India might be.

As they currently stand, entrepreneurship studies deal with the question of the
origins of entrepreneurial action and practices by conceptualising the core issue of
24 A. Popp and R. Holt

opportunity as exogenous to and independent of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur

is an alert agent scanning the environment for signs of pre-existing opportunities and
reacting presciently and adroitly to the signals received from given, external
conditions. It is our contention that this conceptualisation of the origins of
entrepreneurship as lying in pre-determined and externalised opportunities abstracts
from the lived experience of entrepreneurial activity, which is better conceived of as
an imaginative and historically embedded process. Wrapped up in the problem of
retrospective judgement, the dominant conceptualisation too readily takes realised
entrepreneurial projects as obvious and unproblematic manifestations of pre-existing
opportunities residing in given conditions. The problem of origin of entrepreneurial
action is smoothed over and in being so smoothed all of the actions of the
entrepreneur become simply anticipatory, preparatory and determined. Passive
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

reaction usurps lived, questioning engagement.

We have sought for an alternative means of understanding entrepreneurial
origins and opportunities because we believe the prevailing conceptualisations are
deeply atemporal and thus antithetical to both process-based and historically
sensitive approaches to the study of entrepreneurship. The atemporality is inherent
to a conceptualisation of independently pre-existing entrepreneurial opportunities.
Indeed, theorists working in this vein explicitly posit a prior and fixed set of
entrepreneurial opportunities. History becomes a mere handmaiden to the smooth
and linear working out of a determined and calculable set of possibilities. Seeking an
escape from this dead-end we have turned to the work of G.L.S. Shackle, which
suggests instead a view of entrepreneurial origins emerging from imaginative work
set within a constantly unfolding flow of time in which the future is neither set nor
known or knowable. The work of Spinosa et al. then suggests, in turn, how the
forward-casting would-be entrepreneur moves practically from the work of
imagining essentially new worlds to the creation of workable new ventures. This is
not, in the least, fantastical work based in flights of fancy but instead is grounded
solidly in what they term disclosive worlds.
Applying these insights to case of T.E. Thomson and Co. recasts this adventure
as far more than simply filling a fully determined opportunity created in the
conditions that followed on from the collapses of 183034. The form of this
altogether new endeavour was not contained in, made inevitable by or predictable
from the conditions that preceded it. Instead, provoked by a sense of the anomalies
in their own lives, working with what they had learnt of how to do business and
drawing on their own powers of imagination Shaw and Crane brought into being an
opportunity that others had not simply failed to recognise, perhaps because they
lacked the requisite alertness or evaluative acumen, but which had no meaningful
independent or prior existence. It cannot be separated or isolated from the lived
entrepreneurial experience of these two historical figures.
Necessary though it is, we have suggested that attention to historical context does
not inevitably introduce a dynamic, processual perspective; it can simply ask what
conditions pertained at a particular juncture in historical time without inquiring as
to how the entrepreneurial decision-maker experienced them in time. What we argue
is not simply that entrepreneurial processes exist in interplay with historical contexts
but that we need to see them in relation to the unfolding of time as a making present.
Thus, a radical uncertainty as to future states and outcomes, what Shackle called
unknowledge, is a necessary element of our experience of time.89 If we are to truly
accept that time, including historical time, matters then we must also accept this
Business History 25

radical uncertainty, which supplements a world of calculable probabilities with a

world of imagined possibilities. Uncertainty is not simply a function, for example, of
bounded rationality but is actively produced by our ability, set within the flow of
historical time, to imagine future possible outcomes. Origins do not merely await
discovery but are constantly made in the disclosive act of entrepreneurial history-
These ways of reconceptualising entrepreneurial opportunity as the making
present some new state of the world are amenable to neither normal social science
theorising nor, as Dimov so eectively argues, normal empirical study.90 How can
we dwell with the would-be entrepreneur as they conjure with conditions that
contain no necessary outcomes and with opportunities that are, at the very best,
nascent rather than realised? We have used letters as a source that give us some
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

access to the entrepreneurial experience of unfolding time. This result is not, cannot
be, a normal social science proof of hypothesis; instead we oer a reading, itself an
origin, rather than an end.

1. Shane and Venkataraman, Promise of Entrepreneurship.
2. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness.
3. Popp, From Wolverhampton to Calcutta.
4. Shane and Venkataraman, Promise of Entrepreneurship; Casson, Entrepreneurship.
5. Spinosa et al., Disclosing New Worlds.
6. Shackle, Nature of Economic Thought.
7. Ibid., 74.
8. Ibid., 132.
9. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness, 57.
10. Ibid., 58.
11. Ibid., 59, 63, 71.
12. Matheson Connell also uses private letters to study the birth and early growth of an early
nineteenth-century British merchant house, Jardine Matheson and Co., arguing that they
vividly depict uncertainty, image, opportunity, entrepreneurial ambition and adapta-
tion, Matheson Connell, Entrepreneurial Enterprise and Image, 200.
13. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness, 62.
14. Shane and Venkataraman, Promise of Entrepreneurship, 217.
15. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness, 59.
16. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship; Casson, Entrepreneurship,
17. Chapman, Merchant Enterprise; Jones, Merchants to Multinationals; Matheson Connell,
Entrepreneurial Enterprise and Image.
18. Chapman, Merchant Enterprise, 108.
19. Jones, Merchants to Multinationals, 21.
20. Ibid., 29.
21. Webster, An Early Global Business.
22. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship. 220.
23. Shane and Venkataraman, Promise of Entrepreneurship; Casson, Entrepreneurship.
24. Shane and Venkataraman, Promise of Entrepreneurship, 221.
25. Ibid., 222.
26. Naturally, these events did not go unnoticed by others. James Matheson wrote in 1832,
for example, that On the whole, we feel that we are now committing ourselves with
people of far greater solidity than those whose bills are vaunted forth at Calcutta.
Matheson Connell, Entrepreneurial Enterprise and Image, 202.
27. Wolverhampton Archives and Local Studies (WALS), DB-24/A/52.
28. Ibid.
29. Casson, Entrepreneurship; Forestier, Risk, Kinship, and Personal Relationships;
Matheson Connell, Jardine Matheson and Company.
26 A. Popp and R. Holt

30. WALS, DB-24/A/57.

31. Popp, From Wolverhampton to Calcutta.
32. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship.
33. Popp, Building the Market; Popp, From Town to Town.
34. Webster, An Early Global Business, 1216.
35. Matheson Connell, Entrepreneurial Enterprise and Image, 204.
36. Chapman, Merchant Enterprise, 112.
37. Popp and Holt, Organization of Being.
38. Chapman, Merchant Enterprise, 107.
39. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship.
40. Casson, Entrepreneurship.
41. WALS, DB-24/A/98
42. WALS, DB/24/A/35.
43. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship.
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

44. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness, 60.

45. Ibid., 62.
46. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship, 220.
47. Casson, Entrepreneurship, 48.
48. Shane and Venkataraman, The Promise of Entrepreneurship, 220 (emphasis added).
49. Casson, Entrepreneurship, 48 (emphasis added).
50. Ibid., 58.
51. Ibid., 8.
52. Sarasvathy, Eectuation, 104, 1748.
53. Hjorth, Organizational Entrepreneurship, 387 (emphasis original).
54. Hjorth and Steyaert, Entrepreneurship as a Disruptive Event.
55. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness.
56. Casson, Entrepreneurship, 48.
57. Shackle, Nature of Economic Thought, 74.
58. Ibid., 107.
59. Ibid., 71 (emphasis original).
60. Ibid., 73 (emphases original).
61. Ibid., 107 (emphasis original).
62. Ibid., 109 (emphasis original).
63. Ibid.
64. Ibid., 76 (emphasis original).
65. Ibid.
66. Ibid., 11011.
67. Batstone and Pheby, Entrepreneurship and Decision Making, 36.
68. Hjorth, Organizational Entrepreneurship, 287.
69. Shackle, Nature of Economic Thought, 80, 81.
70. Ibid., 74.
71. Spinosa et al., Disclosing New Worlds, 1, 2.
72. Ibid., 16, 17 (emphasis original).
73. Ibid., 19, 20, 24.
74. Shackle, Nature of Economic Thought, 77.
75. Heidegger, Basic Writings.
76. Ibid., 291.
77. Ibid. 292.
78. Spinosa et al., Disclosing New Worlds, 16.
79. Ibid., 24, 54.
80. Ibid., 3.
81. Ibid., 4.
82. Ibid., 11.
83. Shaw Ms. No. 26, John Shaw to Elizabeth Shaw, 20 September 1835, University of
Birmingham Library.
84. Batstone and Pheby, Entrepreneurship and Decision Making, 41.
85. Spinosa et al., Disclosing New Worlds, 3.
86. Shackle, Nature of Economic Thought, 1089.
Business History 27

87. Spinosa et al., Disclosing New Worlds, 4.

88. WALS DB-24/B/531: List of Goods for Sale, 1841.
89. Shackle, Nature of Economic Thought; Batstone and Pheby, Entrepreneurship and
Decision Making, 38.
90. Dimov, Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness.

Notes on contributors
Andrew Popp is Reader in Business History at the University of Liverpool Management School.
Robin Holt is a Professor at the University of Liverpool Management School.

Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017

Batstone, S., and J. Pheby. Entrepreneurship and Decision Making: The Contribution of
G.L.S. Shackle. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research 2 (1996):
Casson, Mark. Entrepreneurship: Theory, Networks and History. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar,
Chapman, Stanley D. Merchant Enterprise in Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1992.
Dimov, Dimo. Grappling with the Unbearable Elusiveness of Entrepreneurial Opportunities.
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 35 (2011): 5781.
Forestier, Albane. Risk, Kinship and Personal Relationships in Late Eighteenth-century West
Indian Trade: The Commercial Network of Tobin and Pinney. Business History 52 (2010):
Heidegger, M. Basic Writings. Ed. D. Krell. New York: Harper Row, 1977. First published
Hjorth, Daniel. Organizational Entrepreneurship: With de Certeau on Creating Heterotopias
(or spaces for play). Journal of Management Inquiry 14 (2005): 38698.
Hjorth, Daniel, and Chris Steyaert. Entrepreneurship as a Disruptive Event. In The Politics
and Aesthetics of Entrepreneurship, ed. Daniel Hjorth and Chris Steyaert, 112.
Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2009.
Jones, Georey. Merchants to Multinationals: British Trading Companies in the Nineteenth and
Twentieth Centuries. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Matheson Connell, Carol. Jardine Matheson and Company: The Role of External
Organization in a Nineteenth-Century Trading Firm. Enterprise and Society 2 (2003):
Matheson Connell, Carol. Entrepreneurial Enterprise and Image in the Nineteenth-century
Trading Firm: Shaping the Legal Environment for Business. Business History 48 (2006):
Popp, Andrew. Building the Market: John Shaw of Wolverhampton and
Commercial Travelling in Early Nineteenth-century England. Business History 49
(2007): 32147.
Popp, Andrew. From Town to Town: How Commercial Travel Connected Manufacturers
and Markets During the Industrial Revolution. Journal of Historical Geography 35 (2009):
Popp, Andrew. From Wolverhampton to Calcutta: The Low Origins of Merchant
Enterprise. In Commerce and Culture: Nineteenth-century Business Elites, ed. Robert
Lee, 3760. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011.
Popp, Andrew, and Robin Holt. Entrepreneurship and the Organization of Being: The Case
of the Shaws. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development (forthcoming).
Sarasvathy, S.D. Eectuation: Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise. Cheltenham: Edward
Elgar, 2008.
Shackle, G.L.S. The Nature of Economic Thought: Selected Papers, 19551964. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1966.
Shane, S., and S. Venkataraman. The Promise of Entrepreneurship as a Field of Research.
Academy of Management Review 25 (2000): 21726.
28 A. Popp and R. Holt

Spinosa, C., F. Flores, and H.L. Dreyfus. Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship,
Democratic Action, and the Cultivation of Solidarity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997.
Webster, Anthony. An Early Global Business in a Colonial Context: The Strategies,
management and Failure of John Palmer and Company of Calcutta, 1780830. Enterprise
and Society 6 (2005): 98133.
Downloaded by [Copenhagen Business School] at 02:33 18 September 2017