“External enabler” (EE) denotes nontrivial changes to the business environment—such as new technology, regulatory change, demographic and sociocultural trends, macroeconomic swings, and changes to the natural environment—that enable entrepreneurial pursuits.
(Davidsson, Recker & von Briel, 2022, p. 1)
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External Enablement (EE) refers to the benefits entrepreneurial pursuits can derive from macro-environmental changes, such as new technologies, regulatory changes, demographic and sociocultural trends, macroeconomic swings, and changes to the natural environment. We developed the EE framework to increase knowledge accumulation in entrepreneurship and strategy research by providing structure and carefully defined terminology to describe, analyze, and explain fortuitous as well as strategically leveraged effects of environmental changes on entrepreneurial action and outcomes.
A fundamental assumption of the EE framework is that every change in the broader environment surrounding economic activity—regardless of the direction and magnitude of its total societal influence—will benefit some (potential) entrepreneurial pursuits. Another fundamental assumption is that seemingly very different types of environmental change can have similar attributes and provide similar benefits. These assumptions provide a basis for broad accumulation of evidence-based knowledge on how entrepreneurial agents can leverage environmental change.
The EE framework has been well received and is increasingly applied and extended by a growing number of researchers within and beyond entrepreneurship. Its use is likewise increasingly advocated in education and training as well as in business and policy.
A new way to look at "opportunity"
The literature on “entrepreneurial opportunities” has grown rapidly since the publication of Shane and Venkataraman (2000). By directing attention to the earliest stages of development of new economic activities and organizations, this marks sound redirection of entrepreneurship research. However, our review shows that theoretical and empirical progress has been limited on important aspects of the role of “opportunities” and their interaction with actors, i.e., the “nexus”. We argue that this is rooted in inherent and inescapable problems with the “opportunity” construct itself, when applied in the context of a prospective, micro-level (i.e., individual[s], venture, or individual–venture dyad) view of entrepreneurial processes. We therefore suggest a fundamental re-conceptualization using the constructs External Enablers, New Venture Ideas, and Opportunity Confidence to capture the many important ideas commonly discussed under the “opportunity” label. This re-conceptualization makes important distinctions where prior conceptions have been blurred: between explananda and explanantia; between actor and the entity acted upon; between external conditions and subjective perceptions, and between the contents and the favorability of the entity acted upon. These distinctions facilitate theoretical precision and can
guide empirical investigation towards more fruitful designs.
(Davidsson, 2015 JBV)
THE EXTERNAL ENABLER FRAMEWORK
The framework conceptualizes external enablers in terms of their characteristics, roles, and mechanisms and detail their implications for entrepreneurial action and outcomes.
The mechanisms of external enablers explicate how they can facilitate the initiation, ongoing development, and success of new business ventures. How mechanisms work often but not always requires premeditated action; occasionally, emerging ventures benefit from enablers and their mechanisms without the entrepreneurial agents’ full awareness.
(Davidsson et al., 2020 AMP)
THE EXTERNAL ENABLER FRAMEWORK SHIFTS ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION
Many principles of entrepreneurship education focus on the role of actors in new venture creation. The external enabler framework shows, indeed, that it is also crucial to teach how actors can interact with environmental changes.