Handbook of Entrepreneurial Cognition

Handbook of Entrepreneurial Cognition

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by J. Robert Mitchell, Ronald K. Mitchell and Brandon Randolph-Seng

Entrepreneurial cognition research is at a crossroads, where static views give way to dynamic approaches. This Handbook draws on a variety of perspectives from experts in the field of entrepreneurial cognition to highlight the key elements in a socially-situated view, where cognition is action-oriented embodied, socially-situated, and distributed. Readers seeking to better understand and/or participate in some of the most up-to-date approaches to entrepreneurial cognition research will find this Handbook to be an invaluable and time-saving companion in their research.

Chapter 14: The whole deal: models, metaphors and mechanisms in entrepreneurial cognition

Saras D. Sarasvathy

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship


The recognition that cognition is embodied within entrepreneurs as unique people sets the stage for an examination of both formal and informal models as tools for entrepreneurial cognition research. To minimize the loss in fidelity, as researchers construct models to represent more complex phenomena, models must be: simple, parsimonious, observable and interesting. Of the four model types that emerge from model building, informal non-essentialist models (i.e., constructive models) have the advantage that they do not overspecify definitions (simplicity and parsimony); and they consist of heuristics that embody ‘even-if’ rather than ‘as-if’ conceptions of situations and behaviors (observability and interest). In this chapter, after the foregoing discussion of model-building veracity, the theory of effectuation is introduced as a constructive model, characteristic of a science of the artificial: where thinking-based heuristics are utilized to unpack its behavioral assumptions into embodied even-if conceptualizations that explain entrepreneurship in cognitive terms.

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