For the past two decades, effectuation theory has increasingly received attention in the field of entrepreneurship. It proposes two entrepreneurial behavioral logics, effectuation and causation, when creating new businesses. Although scholars acknowledge that entrepreneurs can engage in both logics, effectuation theory currently needs some further improvement. In particular, we lack the understanding of why and how entrepreneurs use effectuation or causation and how exactly effectuation can foster venture success. These questions have resulted in inconsistent and inconclusive findings and attracted considerable interests and discussions in academic research. To advance multiple facets of effectuation theory, this thesis has three research focuses. First, it aims to explore the co-evolution of entrepreneurial perceptual uncertainty with behavioral logics. It then investigates and compares how high-performance and low-performance ventures employ effectuation during venture creation processes. Finally, it looks at how different entrepreneurial approaches result in changes of business models.
To address the research aims, I have collected longitudinal interview data with senior managers in 8 high-technology entrepreneurial firms in China each year in November and December for 3 sequential years, 2013, 2014, and 2015. Based on the interview data and the secondary data, I used visual mapping (creating process flow chart), quantification (transforming process data into quantitative data set), synthesis (mapping out causal relationships among different variables observed in processes), temporal bracket strategy (identifying phases and allowing scholars to observe continuity among multidirectional variables), QCA (qualitative comparative analysis), and comparative case study (identifying similarities and variations across process data) to make sense of the rich process data. These strategies all provided analytical traction to identify particular conditions, antecedents, and mechanisms of venture behaviors.
Taken together, the overall thesis contributes to the effectuation literature. First, it informs the importance of combining effectuation and causation at early stages of venture creation process. Through unpacking the uncertainty constructs, the thesis enhances the understanding of the conditions under which entrepreneurs use different behavioral logics. Second, it proposes mechanisms through which ventures can combine both effectuation and causation at different stages during venture creation processes. Finally, it investigates how new ventures could benefit from effectuation and achieve better entrepreneurial outcomes. Empirically, it helps entrepreneurs and other stakeholders build awareness about with whom to collaborate, guide investors in how to evaluate people, and provide insights into how ventures could move forward when facing uncertainty and resource constraint. Keywords
Effectuation, entrepreneurial behavioral logics, nascent, venture creation process
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