Author ORCID Identifier


Packard -

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Small Business Economics



First Page


Last Page



The traditional view that perceived and archival uncertainty measures are substitutable proxies for “true” environmental (entrepreneurial) uncertainty presumes an “all-seeing eye.” Adopting a representationalist epistemology, we distinguish environmental (objective) unpredictability from entrepreneurs’ subjective uncertainty, which has so far been theoretically confounded. It is, in fact, possible for an entrepreneur to be highly certain despite excessive unpredictability and vice versa. Theoretically distinguishing these constructs has fundamental implications for entrepreneurial action theory. For example, because intentional action is consciously originated, unpredictability influences action only indirectly, while uncertainty has direct effects. Outcomes, on the other hand, are directly affected by the complexity and dynamism (unpredictability) of things, whereas uncertainty only has an indirect and tenuous role in what occurs. We develop hypotheses along these theoretical lines and test them on a longitudinal sample of new mobile apps and survey responses from their developers. We find, generally, that unpredictability, uncertainty, and their effects on entrepreneurial action are empirically distinct. This provides added impetus for a shift away from positivism and toward a subjectivist approach to entrepreneurship.


This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:

Publisher holds a Bespoken License