Sharon Alvarez

  • Thomas W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurship


Dr. Sharon Alvarez is the Thomas W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh. Prior to that, she was Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management and the Academic Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Max M. Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

Dr. Alvarez’s work explores the possibility that opportunities are created and exploited by those seeking to generate economic profits. This simple observation that entrepreneurs have agency and create new knowledge and are not just reactors in a given world has a number of important implications for both the field of entrepreneurship and, more broadly, the field of management. As a consequence of this work, the standard view in entrepreneurship shifted towards a view of opportunities being endogenously created by the actions of individuals seeking to create value under conditions of Knightian uncertainty.

This work on opportunities and Knightian uncertainty has implications for the field of management that has broadly adopted the paradigm of bounded rationality. Alvarez’s latest publication (with Porac), “Imagination, Indeterminacy, and Managerial Choice at the Limit of Knowledge,” recognizes that, as an economic process unfolds, the future is often significantly different from the past, and the past is not completely reliable in predicting the future. Putting managerial choice and cognition at the center of decision-making instead of viewing managers as cognitively limited reactors to the environment, this paper challenges the current management paradigm based on the Carnegie School’s bounded rationality. Elected to the Board of Governors of the Academy of Management in 2020, Professor Alvarez is currently Vice President Elect and Program Chair and will serve as President in 2023; she is Past Chair of the Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management and was the 2015 Denver Program Chair for the Strategic Management Society as well as Representative at Large for the SMS Entrepreneurship Interest Group.

She is associate editor for the Academy of Management Review and past associate editor for Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal. Her work has been published in a multitude of journals and outlets, including Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Academy of Management Perspectives, Academy of Management Executive, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of Management, and Human Resource Management Journal.

The recipient of numerous awards for excellence in research and teaching, Professor Alvarez’s paper (with Barney) “Discovery and Creation: Alternative Theories of Entrepreneurial Action” won the Academy of Management’s Entrepreneurship Division 2019 Foundational Paper Award as well as the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal Best Paper Award; her paper (with Barney) “Forming and Exploiting Opportunities: The Implications of Discovery and Creation Processes for Entrepreneurial and Organizational Research” was the runner-up for the INFORMS award; and her paper (with Barney) “How Entrepreneurs Organize under Conditions of Uncertainty” won the Journal of Management Best Paper Award. Her work in the Journal of Management is the 27th most cited article in the last 50 years; she has currently close to 16,000 citations overall. To this day, the paper “Discovery and Creation: Alternative Theories of Entrepreneurial Action” is the most cited paper in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.

Awards and Honors

2019       Academy of Management Foundational Paper Award
2014       Strategic Management Society Best Paper
2010       Journal of Management Best Paper
2008       Fisher College of Business Undergraduate Teaching Award
2006       Kauffman Grant for SES ($81,000)
2005       Kauffman Grant ($50,000)
2006       Max Planck Scholar in Entrepreneurship and Economic Systems
2005       Max Planck Scholar in Entrepreneurship and Economic Systems
2004       Max Planck Scholar in Entrepreneurship and Economic Systems
2004       Fisher College of Business Entrepreneurship Program ranked top 13
2002       Fisher College of Business Entrepreneurship Center Seed ($500,000)
2002       Midwest Academy of Management Best Paper Nominee 2002
2002       Strategic Management Society McKinsey Best Paper Nominee 2001, 2002
2001       Midwestern Academy of Management-Best Reviewer Award
1998       Kauffman Emerging Scholars Dissertation Award ($16,000)
1998       Price Babson Fellowship ($4,000)
1997       Graduate School Academic Fellowship ($2,000)
1997       MacMillian Entrepreneurship Fellowship ($2,000)
1996       MacMillian Entrepreneurship Fellowship ($2,000)
1996       Kauffman Research Grant ($30,000)
1993       Coca Cola Foundation Research Grant ($36,000)


  • PhD, Business Administration: Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management, University of Colorado
  • MBA, International Management, University of Denver
  • BSBA, University of Colorado

Recent Publications

Alvarez, S.A., Barney, J.B., McBride, R., & Wuebker, R. (2016). On Opportunities: Philosophical and Empirical Implications. Academy of Management Review, forthcoming.

Morris, S., Alvarez, S.A., Barney, J.B., Molloy, J. (2015). Firm-specific human capital investments as a signal of general value: Revisiting assumptions about human capital and how it is managed. Strategic Management Journal. In press, available as early view.

Alvarez, S.A., Young, S.L., & Woolley, J. (2015). Opportunities and institutions: A co-creation story of the king crab industry. Journal of Business Venturing, 30(1): 95-112.

Alvarez, S.A., Barney, J.B., & Newman, A.M.B. (2015). The poverty problem and the industrialization solution. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 32(1): 23-37.

Welter, C. & Alvarez, S.A. (2015). The state of opportunities: Clarifying the transitions between opportunity types. Management Decision, 53(7): 1398 – 1411.

Alvarez, S.A., Barney, J.B., McBride, R., & Wuebker, R. (2014). On the misuse of realism in the study of entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Review, 39 (2): 227-231.

Alvarez, S.A., & Barney, J.B. (2014). Entrepreneurial opportunities and poverty alleviation. Entrepreneurship, Theory, and Practice, 38 (1) 159-184.

Alvarez, S.A., Godley, A. & Wright, M. (2014). Mark Casson: The entrepreneur at 30 – Continued relevance? Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 8 (2): 185-194.

Alvarez, S.A., & Barney, J. B. (2013). Epistemology, opportunities, and the field of entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Review, 38 (1): 154-157.

Alvarez, S.A., Barney, J.B., & Anderson, P. (2013). Forming and exploiting opportunities: The implications of discovery and creation processes for entrepreneurial and organizational research. Organization Science, 24 (1): 301-317.

Welter, C., Bosse, D., & Alvarez, S.A. (2012). The interaction between managerial and technological capabilities as a determinant of company performance: An empirical study of biotech firms. International Journal of Management, 29 (4).

Alvarez, S.A., & Barney, J. B. (2010). Entrepreneurship and epistemology: The philosophical underpinnings of the study of entrepreneurial opportunities. Academy of Management Annals, 4: 557-583.

Alvarez, S.A., & Parker, S. P. (2009). Emerging firms and the allocation of control rights: A Bayesian approach. Academy of Management Review, 34 (7): 209-227. (Lead Paper).

Bosse, D., & Alvarez, S.A. (2009). Bargaining power in alliance governance negotiations: Evidence from the biotechnology industry. Technovation, 30 (5-6): 367-375.

Alvarez, S.A., & Barney, J.B. (2008). Opportunities, organizations, and entrepreneurship. I. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2 (4): 265-257.

Alvarez, S.A., & Barney, J.B. (2008). Opportunities, organizations, and entrepreneurship. II. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2 (3): 171-173.

Alvarez, S.A., & Barney, J.B. (2007). Discovery and creation: Alternative theories of entrepreneurial action. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 1 (1). (Lead Paper). Best Paper Award 2014. GS Citations as of June 2016: 1004

Alvarez, S.A. & Barney, J.B. (2007). Entrepreneurship and the theory of the firm: Why do entrepreneurial firms exist? Journal of Management Studies, 44 (7): 1056-1065.

Alvarez, S.A. (2007). Entrepreneurial rents and the theory of the firm. Journal of Business Venturing, 22 (3): 427-442.

Alvarez, S.A., Ireland, R.D., & Reuer, J. (2006). Strategic alliances and entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing, 21 (4): 401-404.

Alvarez, S.A. & Barney, J.B. (2005). How do entrepreneurs organize firms under conditions of uncertainty? Journal of Management, 31(5): 776-793. (JOM 2010 Best Paper Award for top cited paper in 5 years). GS Citations as of June 2016: 350

Alvarez, S.A. & Barney, J.B. (2004) Organizing rent generation and appropriation: Toward a theory of the entrepreneurial firm. Journal of Business Venturing, 19 (5): 621-635. (Lead Paper). GS Citations as of June 2016 - 313

Alvarez, S.A., Barney, J.B., Bosse, D., (2004). Trust and its alternatives. Human Resource Management Journal, 42 (4): 393-404.

Brush, C.G., Duhaime, I.M., Gartner, W.B., Stewart, A., Katz, J.A., Hitt, M.A., Alvarez, S.A., Meyer, G.D., & Venkataraman, S. (2003) Doctoral education in the field of entrepreneurship. Journal of Management. 29 (3): 309-332.

Alvarez, S.A. & Buzenitz, L. (2001). The entrepreneurship of resource-based theory. Journal of Management, 27: 755-775. GS Citations as of June 2016: 1533

Alvarez, S.A. & Barney, J.B. (2001). How entrepreneurial firms can benefit from alliances with large partners. Academy of Management Executive, 15 (1): 139-148. GS Citations as of June 2016: 502

Allen, D. & Alvarez, S.A. (1998) Empowering expatriates and organizations to improve repatriation effectiveness. Human Resource Planning, 29-39.

Center Affiliation

International Business

CV File

Academic Area

Organizations and Entrepreneurship