Limitations and Research Agenda
As with any other study, our investigation presents several limitations. Having chosen to focus solely on Malawi, a key challenge for future researchers is to ascertain whether research findings from Malawi can be replicated in other African countries. A second step could be to test our hypotheses with a quantitative study.
This study is constrained by its analysis of opportunity discovery and exploitation processes based on past examples. Zietsma (1999) identifies the difficulties in measuring the current opportunity exploration processes ofentrepreneurs. Upcoming studies could compare a group of entrepreneurs that developed opportunities in the past with another group scanning for future opportunities. Differences should emerge due to the interdependence of opportunities with the constantly changing external environment.
There are a number of areas for further research that can be explored. First, tourism scholars must explore portfolio entrepreneurs in more detail, focusing on differences in opportunity recognition between portfolio and novice entrepreneurs (Westhead et al., 2003; Wiklund and Shepherd, 2008). Portfolio entrepreneurship in Africa is an emerging research area (Balunywa and Rosa, 2008; Malfense-Fierro and Kivuloto, 2010), and while one portfolio entrepreneur was identified, an indepth study of this concept was beyond the scope of the chapter. Future studies must explore portfolio entrepreneurship in larger entrepreneurial firms in Malawi, in other African countries, and in other economic sectors.
Second, the role of governments in hindering or encouraging opportunities, especially in the African context, should also be studied. The public sector has to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurship, as political stability is particularly important considering the sensitivity of tourists and outbound tour operators to negative socioeconomic developments and news. Public sector authorities must also provide incentives and simplify business regulations to foster existing and new entrepreneurial activity. Third, researchers should focus on the relevance of the entrepreneurial team, especially circumstances where team members remain in the new venture or part ways with their leaders. Alternatively, exploring the specific ways in which team members interact with entrepreneurs to identify and exploit opportunities could provide valuable insights. Finally, optimal locations where entrepreneurs recognize opportunities can be worth investigating as entrepreneurs strive to create the ideal work environment to foster creativity and imagination both for themselves and their employees.
In conclusion, this investigation’s ultimate goal is to facilitate future empirical studies of tourism entrepreneurship in Southern Africa. These studies should in turn provide the information necessary for entrepreneurs and stakeholders in public and private sectors to present dynamic, socially responsible, and sustainable solutions to the existing economic and social challenges in the entire continent of Africa.