This study explores whether habitual entrepreneurs with prior business ownership experience reported higher information search intensities and identified more business opportunities than novice entrepreneurs. Guided by human capital and cognitive theories, four hypotheses were tested with regard to a sample of 625 entrepreneurs in Great Britain. Habitual entrepreneurs were not found to report lower levels of information search intensity than novice entrepreneurs. Habitual entrepreneurs identified more business opportunities than novice entrepreneurs. Portfolio entrepreneurs identified more opportunities than serial and novice entrepreneurs. Respondents reporting higher entrepreneurial capability and information search intensity identified more opportunities. If the goals of policy are to increase the 'quantity' of new business start-ups and maximize investment returns, there is a case to target assistance to habitual entrepreneurs, particularly portfolio entrepreneurs. More customized assistance to entrepreneurs is required to improve the 'quality' of the entrepreneurial pool. Both novice and habitual entrepreneurs would benefit from schemes that promote more intensive information search and the leverage of entrepreneurial capabilities.

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International Small Business Journal
Erasmus School of Economics

Westhead, P., Ucbasaran, D., & Wright, M. (2009). Information search and opportunity identification: The importance of prior business ownership experience. International Small Business Journal, 27(6), 659–680. doi:10.1177/0266242609344255