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Inexperienced but Effectual: the Importance of Conceptualizing Context in Expert Decision-Logic by Novices

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Objective/Aim: Focusing on four aspects of context; social, spatial, temporal and institutional the aim of this research is to examine why some students learn to be effectual and others do not. We explore how context impacts novice entrepreneurs and their entrepreneurial teams in the application of effectual decision making logics and why these differ across student groups.

Prior research: So far effectuation theory has been validated for expert entrepreneurs. Recent research indicates that even novices may make decisions based on effectual decision logics. Here the questions about what might mitigate an “experience deficit” and why some novices rely on effectuation remains largely unanswered.

Approach/Method: We use a multiple case study of 29 entrepreneurial teams in an undergraduate entrepreneurship classroom.

Findings: We identify three phases in the effectuation process in the classroom i) an initiation period, where motivation and expectations are high and context impacts on the student’s ability to begin the process; ii) a phase of identity construction in teams, where relational aspects are integral to supporting the continuation of the process; and iii) a mastery phase where the five principles through trial and error are experienced and reflection and confidence/trust in the team/process/outcome are important. At each of these phases some teams opt out when the context is perceived as hindering desired outcomes.

Implications/Value: The contribution of this paper is threefold: (i) even in the classroom four aspects of context enable and hinder the achievement of agency ii) three phases of the effectuation process are identified iii) different types of students are enabled and hindered by context in the achievement of entrepreneurial agency.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventRENT - Zagreb, Croatia
Duration: 18 Nov 201520 Nov 2015
Conference number: 29



    Research areas

  • Effectuation, Novice Entrepreneur, Team, Context, Agency, Entrepreneurship Education

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