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Definition of Opportunism
Defining a word is not very difficult in language like English. It is because a person can find multiple meanings of a single word in the same language. The meaning of a word varies for person to person and place to place within a same language. There are some controversial words which are used for totally different meaning in English. There are so many words in English language which are misused in the conversation. Many smart people will seem dumb to you due to their word fails. You will be surprised to see people using the words in new meaning. Likewise, Opportunism is one them. It seems a very attractive and positive word. Anybody hears the word “Opportunism” for the first time, he or she thinks of the another word i.e. Opportunity. Opportunity is very common word and everyone knows its meaning. Therefore, people take “Opportunism” as a positive term like opportunity. There are so many people who think of Opportunism as an opportunity creator or ways of promoting opportunity. Anyone would think of it the same way but the actual meaning of opportunism is totally opposite.
According to the dictionary meaning of the opportunism is exploitation or grasping of the opportunity. However, it is defined in various fields. In the Business sector, it is considered as a practice to take advantage of the several circumstances for their benefits. It is a selfish term that hardly cares about the consequences brought for others. A person who is Opportunist do not care about the individuals and their actions all based on their motives. Moreover, this word is used as a singular or plural both. Likewise, there are other definitions of Opportunism. In Economics, Opportunism is widely used and it is considered as the foundation of many theories. All the economic theories refer this term to those human being who are selfish and who take the advantage of the other people whenever they see it possible. Opportunism is different from competition. In competition a person bravely fights or competes with the second person. However, he or she deceives or harms the second person in order to win is not a competition. It is opportunism, where person forgets about his or her moral values and ethical standards. Instead, they prefer their selfish desires over the humanity. In addition, in business sector the practice of opportunism is very common. Different Business entities take advantage of smaller firms by making fake promises, perverting purposes or reneging on contracts.
Most of the people misinterpret the word “Opportunism” due to its resemblance with the term opportunity. It has a negative moral meaning and it is only about following ones’ self-interest. In other ways, Opportunism is also defined as the ability to take advantage of the mistakes by others (Dredge, p.134). It is also about exploiting those opportunities which are shaped by errors. Opportunity refers to a chance whereas Opportunism is considered as a practical approach of weak person. All the people who are living in different societies are bound to follow the social norms and ethical standards. Everyone is accountable to follow all the social values and make them part of their lives. All the social and moral values teach the concept of being selflessness. A person is a gentleman if he or she follows all those ethical standards in society. He or she cares about the others first and sacrifice for the happiness of others, are the demands of the moral values. Opportunism is criticized because it lacks integrity and it is something that is inconsistent or unacceptable in the society. However, people can raise question on selfishness, it is positive sometimes. But, there is difference between undesirable selfishness and the word selfishness. The moral values would not allow an individual to openly practice Opportunism. They cannot harm people or use the rights of other people for the sake of their personal benefit. There are negative moral connotations of this word. There is a moral dilemma inferred by opportunism concerns the encounter of self-interest with the wellbeing of the other individuals. Likewise, it has given birth to conflicts among the people.
When the synonyms of opportunism were examined, the close words are advantage, expedience, exploitation and timeliness. All these words are linked to opportunism. According to the common observation opportunism is not a positive thing for the opportunist him or herself. It is kind of social disease which is spreading throughout the society. It is consuming every single person and making him or her forget about the ethical values. The users of Opportunism are divided into two groups. The first group takes it as positive term by confusing it with a positive terminology i.e. opportunity. On the other side, the other group is the group of opportunists who are seeking advantages regarding their personal gain. When they see any opportunity coming towards them, they will prioritize their desires above the interests of other. It is a disease or a weakness of people with low-esteem. People who are unable to compete with others and face the reality, try to rely on opportunism. It can be a risky factor and it leads the people towards self-destruction opportunities. For instance, people who want to make money go the illegal activities like gambling and robbery. They see this criminal acts like the opportunities to fulfill their desires. Moreover, they do not accept their mistakes because they have trained their minds that way.
Moreover, this term is also used in different areas along with another word, which specifies it more. For instance, in official ethical standards it is considered as professional uprightness (Williamson, pp. 97-107). It is more focusing the performance rather than self-interest. On the other side, the intellectual opportunism defines self-interest, personal benefits and self-serving power of human mind. Using their intellectual powers, these types of opportunists can get into any organization and they can survive any fashion. However, in the biological terms opportunism is used for those organisms which can live in different environmental conditions.
In conclusion, opportunism is exploitation or grasping of the opportunity. people take “Opportunism” as a positive term like opportunity. There are so many people who think of Opportunism as an opportunity creator or ways of promoting opportunity. Anyone would think of it the same way but the actual meaning of opportunism is totally opposite. It is considered as a practice to take advantage of the several circumstances for their benefits. It is a selfish term that hardly cares about the consequences brought for others. A person who is Opportunist do not care about the individuals and their actions are all based on their motives. All the economic theories refer this term to those human being who are selfish and who take the advantage of the other people whenever they see it possible. Most of the times, it is misinterpreted by the people by the linkage of the term with “opportunity”. The synonyms of Opportunism are advantage, expedience, exploitation and timeliness. According to the formal ethical standards it is considered as professional uprightness. It is more focusing the performance rather than self-interest. On the other side, the intellectual opportunism defines self-interest, personal benefits and self-serving power of human mind. Thus, a single word can have a controversial meaning in different fields. It depends on how people define it.
Williamson, Oliver E. "Opportunism and its critics." Managerial and decision economics 14.2 (1993): 97-107.
Dredge, Sarah. "Opportunism and Accommodation: The English Woman’s Journal and the British Mid-Nineteenth-Century Women’s Movement." Women’s Studies 34.2 (2005): 133-157.
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