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Opportunity identification and exploitation in value chains : a study of innovative food entrepreneurs in Thailand

Chanuban, Ontida


Ontida Chanuban


A. C. Malfense Fierro

Steve Johnson


Research focus and methodology
Entrepreneurship is a crucial behaviour that drives economic growth and to improve people’s lives. It is seen as a source of income for those who can successfully identify and exploit opportunity to create value and profit. Entrepreneurs do not act in isolation, they are part of an industry’s value chain. An Entrepreneur’s interaction with other stakeholders and the surrounding context influences the opportunity process. Entrepreneurial opportunity may occur at any stage in the value chain. Entrepreneurs all operate within a value chain and their activities are all part of value adding processes. Despite this, there are a small number of studies that consider entrepreneurs as actors within a value chain context. The roles of entrepreneurs within different parts of the value chain may therefore contribute to the literature focusing on how entrepreneurs identify and exploit opportunity.
This thesis is both exploratory and qualitative and is underpinned by a critical realist paradigm. It exercises the use of numbers in a qualitative study at a quantizing level. The data collection employs a semi-structured interview technique. The interviews were taken with 35 entrepreneurs owning various firms at all scale classification (small, medium, large). The sample is drawn from entrepreneurs operating in Thai food industries, particularly in the value chains of rice and fruits. Data collection also involved 2 elites and 9 experts, who were interviewed to provide a comprehensive background of entrepreneurship with a Thai context.
Finding and implication
Entrepreneurs identify opportunity by considering supply-side factors and demand-side factors. While businesses wish to be accepted by the market, but the supply-side factors appear to outweigh demand-side factors in their opportunity identification stage. Categorising entrepreneurs by firm’s size, it reveals dissimilarity in their opportunity identification process. While small firm owners emphasize on supply-side factors, the medium and large sized entrepreneurs are more focus on demand factors. Further analysis of value chain perspectives also discovers the disparity of these factors within entrepreneurs operating in different sub- value chain as well as those operating different roles in the food chain.
Looking at opportunity exploitation, the finding discloses exploitation strategies in diverse stances of business activities, organisation structures, sources of knowledge, and other relationship with stakeholders. Dissimilarities in their size, sub-value chain, and roles in the value chains also affect choice of exploitation approach.
Entrepreneurs may benefit from the findings of this research. They can understand how entrepreneurs with different characteristics behave in order to identify and exploit opportunity. These insights may be especially important for entrepreneurs who wish to increase profits by introducing higher value-added activities within their businesses.
This study aims at helping policy makers to understand the varied nature of opportunity identification and exploitation among entrepreneurs. Policy formation mostly focuses on firm size as a unit of analysis, largely ignoring the fact that the entrepreneurs may possess multiple businesses or that they operate at different levels within a value chain. These factors influence how entrepreneurs identify and exploit opportunity. Consequently, policy makers should pay more attention to both the entrepreneur’s individual and firm-level characteristics in order to design and implement more suitable supporting policies.


Chanuban, O. (2020). Opportunity identification and exploitation in value chains : a study of innovative food entrepreneurs in Thailand. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 25, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2020


Thesis (9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 Chanuban, Ontida. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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