“One tiny drop changes everything”: Constructing opportunity with words

Irina Liuberte, Dimo Dimov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper uses the theory of speech acts to explore how entrepreneurs use language to construct the opportunities they set out to pursue. We use the case of Theranos (a journey from inspiring vision to criminal infamy) as a natural setting that draws a sharp contrast between words as the content of speech (“opportunity”) and world as its object (opportunity). Our analysis of communication from the early days of the company highlights locutionary content (framing, filling, connecting, and committing), illocutionary force (statements, claims, feelings, attitudes, vows, pledges), and perlocutionary effects (agitate, inspire, envisage, mobilize, and reassure) as distinct aspects of opportunity construction.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00242
JournalJournal of Business Venturing Insights
Early online date9 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021


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