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Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise

Saras D. Sarasvathy

Saras D. Sarasvathy, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia, US

2008 392 pp Hardback 978 1 84376 680 3
2009 Paperback 978 1 84844 572 7
ebook isbn 978 1 84844 019 7

Hardback £108.00 on-line price £97.20

Paperback £39.00 on-line price £31.20


Series: New Horizons in Entrepreneurship series

Available as an eBook for subscribing libraries on Elgaronline.

For individuals at paper price on Google ebooks and

Other eBook partners.

‘The concept of effectuation is as subtle as it is profound. On the one hand, it challenges long held beliefs about the nature of cause and effect in social science. On the other hand, it generates a host of new insights about social phenomena. This concept is particularly well suited to analyzing entrepreneurial behavior – behaviors undertaken in settings where the relationship between cause and effect is understood, at best, very poorly.’
– Jay B. Barney, The Ohio State University, US


Further information

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.

Using empirical and theoretical work done in collaboration with Nobel Laureate Herbert A. Simon, the author employs methods from cognitive science and behavioral economics to develop the notion of entrepreneurial expertise and effectuation. Supportive empirical evidence is provided by the author’s study of 27 entrepreneurs as well as other independent studies. The book then traces the consequences of effectuation for business management, economics and social philosophy. The author finds that effectuators generate constraint-satisfying solutions rather than searching for optimal ones, make rather than find opportunities, and in a deep sense, convert ‘as-if’ propositions into ‘even-if’ ones. The way they accomplish this is the central discussion of the book.

Students and scholars of entrepreneurship will find this path-breaking research of great value. The book’s conclusions will also be of interest to those in the fields of behavioral and evolutionary economics, cognitive science and management.

Full table of contents

Contents: Foreword by Lester Lave Preface Introduction Part I: The Empirical Journey – Entrepreneurial Expertise 1. What I Set Out to Study and Why 2. What I Found and How 3. Interpreting What I Found Part II: The Theoretical Journey – Effectuation 4. Understanding Effectuation: Problem Space and Solution Principles 5. Understanding Effectuation: Dynamics of the Effectual Process 6. Relating Effectuation to Performance Part III: Waypoint 7. Entrepreneurship as a Science of the Artificial 8. Competitive Advantages and Entrepreneurial Opportunities 9. Philosophy and Methodology of Effectual Economics 10. Markets in Human Hope Part IV: The Way Ahead 11. Teaching Effectuation 12. Research Works-in-Progress 13. New Research Ventures References Index

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