Effectuation

Effectuation

Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise

New Horizons in Entrepreneurship series

Saras D. Sarasvathy

To effectuate is to engage in a specific type of entrepreneurial action. It has special importance for situations where the future is truly unknowable or human agency is of primary importance. In Effectuation, Saras Sarasvathy explores the theory and techniques of non-predictive control for creating new firms, markets and economic opportunities.

Chapter 8: Competitive Advantages and Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Saras D. Sarasvathy

Subjects: business and management, entrepreneurship

Extract

In this chapter I examine the implications of effectuation for current research in strategic management and entrepreneurship. According to current scholarship, the primary concern of strategic management is the pursuit of sustainable competitive advantages; that of entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunities (Michael et al., 2001). However, the very existence of an ultimate source of sustainable competitive advantage has recently been questioned (Collis, 1994; Winter, 2003). By conceptualizing markets as artifacts, effectuation stands with those critiques; moreover, effectuation questions the existence of opportunities as a precondition of entrepreneurial action. The implication of the former is to highlight the role of voluntary exit in strategic management; that of the latter is to reconceptualize opportunities as outcomes of, rather than precursors to, entrepreneurship. I will examine each of these implications in turn and trace their consequences for future research in the two fields. 8.1 STRATEGY AS THE PURSUIT OF SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE? Sustainable competitive advantage has been the holy grail of strategic management. Take the opening sentence of the widely cited article by Teece et al.: The fundamental question in the field of strategic management is how firms achieve and sustain competitive advantage. (Teece et al., 1997: 509) But it is a holy grail that has mostly proved elusive. In its pursuit, the field has experienced several paradigm shifts, including classic studies of competitive forces, game-theoretic analyses of strategic conflict, resource-based views and, most recently, perspectives based on dynamic capabilities. There also exist critiques of the quest for...

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