Effectuation - Publications


Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy introduced effectuation as a new theory of entrepreneurship in a 2001 paper “Causation and Effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency,” published in the Academy of Management Review. Sarasvathy’s theory challenged the traditional understanding of entrepreneurial decision-making and behavior. In her paper, she drew a distinction between the traditional, “causal” reasoning—typical of managers who use historical data to predict outcomes in the environment—and the “effectual” reasoning that minimizes reliance on prediction and is used by expert entrepreneurs to deal with uncertainty.

Since the publication of that seminal paper more than two decades ago, effectuation has been developed as the most research-driven rigorous framework for the study and teaching of entrepreneurship in universities around the world.

More than 700 peer-reviewed articles have been published, including about 100 in top-tier journals, relating effectuation to a variety of key topics in the field of entrepreneurship and management including bricolage, co-creation and service dominant logic, experimentation, entrepreneurial opportunity and business model innovation, to name a few.

  • Books

    Effectuation Elements

  • Media

    Top Three

    1. "Essential Qualities for Entrepreneur Leadership"
    2. "How Great Entrepreneurs Think"
    3. “What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial” (annotated by Vinod Khosla; hosted by Khosla Ventures) 

    Additional Articles

    "Professor Saras D. Sarasvathy Talks About Effectuation in Entrepreneurship"

    "Loyola’s entrepreneur support program, Baltipreneurs Accelerator continue to nurture underrepresented founders"

    "The 5 Principles of Effectuation: A New Way of Problem-Solving for Veteran Entrepreneurs"

    "‘Effectuation’ approach to policymaking pays off"

    "Amplifying New Business Creation With An Entrepreneur In Residence"

    "For an Entrepreneur, Having a Lot of Money can Be a Problem"

    "The Knowledge Entrepreneur: A New Paradigm For Preparing Tomorrow's Engineers And Scientists"

    "From Class Clown to CEO"

    "You can be an Entrepreneur Just Find Your Context"

    "How do Entrepreneurs Think?" (Forbes) 

    "The Power of Negative Thinking"

  • Journal Articles

    There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed journal articles written about Effectuation. Below is a curated selection of seminal articles offered as a starting point for research.

    Cowden, B., Karami, M., Tang, J., Ye, W., & Adomako, S. (2023). The gendered effects of effectuation. Journal of Business Research, 155, 113403.

    Sarasvathy, S. D. (2021). The middle class of business: Endurance as a dependent variable in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 45(5), 1054-1082.

    Sarasvathy, S. D., & Venkataraman, S. (2011). Entrepreneurship as method: Open questions for an entrepreneurial future. Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 35(1), 113-135.

    Sarasvathy, Saras D. "Causation and effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency." Academy of Management Review 26.2 (2001): 243-263.

    Dew, N., Read, S., Sarasvathy, S. D., & Wiltbank, R. (2009). Effectual versus predictive logics in entrepreneurial decision-making: Differences between experts and novices. Journal of Business Venturing, 24(4), 287-309.

    Wiltbank, R., Dew, N., Read, S., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2006). What to do next? The case for non‐predictive strategy. Strategic Management Journal, 27(10), 981-998.

    Wiltbank, R., Read, S., Dew, N., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2009). Prediction and control under uncertainty: Outcomes in angel investing. Journal of Business Venturing, 24(2), 116-133.

    Read, S., Dew, N., Sarasvathy, S. D., Song, M., & Wiltbank, R. (2009). Marketing under uncertainty: The logic of an effectual approach. Journal of Marketing, 73(3), 1-18.

    Sarasvathy, S. D., & Dew, N. (2005). New market creation through transformation. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 15, 533-565.

    Sarasvathy, S., Kumar, K., York, J. G., & Bhagavatula, S. (2014). An effectual approach to international entrepreneurship: Overlaps, challenges, and provocative possibilities. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 38(1), 71-93.

    Kalinic, I., Sarasvathy, S. D., & Forza, C. (2014). ‘Expect the unexpected’: Implications of effectual logic on the internationalization process. International Business Review, 23(3), 635-647.

    Dew, N., Read, S., Sarasvathy, S. D., & Wiltbank, R. (2011). On the entrepreneurial genesis of new markets: effectual transformations versus causal search and selection. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 21, 231-253.

    Prashantham, S., Kumar, K., Bhagavatula, S., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2019). Effectuation, network-building and internationalisation speed. International Small Business Journal, 37(1), 3-21.

    Harmeling, S. S., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2013). When contingency is a resource: Educating entrepreneurs in the Balkans, the Bronx, and beyond. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 37(4), 713-744.

    Alsos, G. A., Clausen, T. H., Mauer, R., Read, S., & Sarasvathy, S. D. (2020). Effectual exchange: from entrepreneurship to the disciplines and beyond. Small Business Economics, 54, 605-619.

    Dew, N., Ramesh, A., Read, S., Sarasvathy, S. D., & Virginia, V. (2018). Toward deliberate practice in the development of entrepreneurial expertise: The anatomy of the effectual ask. The Cambridge handbook of expertise and expert performance, 2018, 389-412.

    Gustafsson, V., & Khan, M. S. (2017). Monetising blogs: Enterprising behaviour, co-creation of opportunities and social media entrepreneurship. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 7, 26-31.

    Chandler, G. N., DeTienne, D. R., McKelvie, A., & Mumford, T. V. (2011). Causation and effectuation processes: A validation study. Journal of business venturing, 26(3), 375-390.

    Brettel, M., Mauer, R., Engelen, A., & Küpper, D. (2012). Corporate effectuation: Entrepreneurial action and its impact on R&D project performance. Journal of business venturing, 27(2), 167-184.