Darden Professor Unveils 'Society for Effectual Action' and effectuation.org

February 02, 2011

February 2, 2011 — The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and its Batten Institute have launched a new resource to advance the scholarship and teaching of entrepreneurship.

Darden professor Saras Sarasvathy and colleagues – both scholars and entrepreneurs – from around the globe have created the Society for Effectual Action and its new online community, effectuation.org, focused on the specific study of entrepreneurship known as "effectuation."

Effectuation fundamentally rethinks how entrepreneurship is researched and taught throughout the world. Sarasvathy and 2009 Darden alumni Chip Ransler and Ian Ayers created the Society for Effectual Action as a rich resource for researchers and educators that builds on effectuation's logic, which is used by expert entrepreneurs to solve problems in highly uncertain market environments.

Sarasvathy pioneered effectuation research beginning in the late 1990s. Her 2001 article "What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial?," published by Darden Business Publishing, is one of the seminal articles that spawned this relatively new branch of entrepreneurship research, which has since gathered a cohort of scholars from around the world.

Sarasvathy describes effectuation by using the example of a woman who wants to open an Indian restaurant. If she were to proceed causally, following the approach she learned in business school, she'd study the restaurant market in the city where she's planning to do business, select a location, choose a customer segment, design a restaurant, raise funds, assemble a team, develop a marketing plan and then open the doors to diners.

If she instead took an effectual approach, the outcome would depend on her means: who she is, what she knows and who she knows. If she lets her first restaurant customers contribute to the development of her idea – and discovers that they are more interested in her knowledge of Indian culture and life experiences than they are in her cooking – she might decide to go into business in education, travel or self-help. In the process of trying to build a new venture, she might discover an entirely new market.

The new online Society for Effectual Action community contains links to cutting-edge research and articles related to effectuation, a directory of researchers around the world, forums for commenting on the most interesting questions in the field, resources for young scholars, listings of events, and a trove of materials for educators, including teaching notes, case studies and other tools for bringing effectuation into the classroom.

Coinciding with the launch of effectuation.org is the publication of "Effectual Entrepreneurship," a textbook of techniques, exercises, activities, case studies and other materials to promote the application of effectuation.

The study of effectuation has become widely acclaimed as a framework for understanding the creation and growth of new organizations and markets. Many academics and business practitioners have also recognized that the principles of effectuation can be applied to solve some of the world's most pressing problems.

To learn more, visit the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, or contact communications@darden.virginia.edu or a member of the Communication Team.

Media Contact

Beth Schmid

Senior Writer McIntire School of Commerce