This study looks at eleven entrepreneurs. Some of them were known to the researcher as persons who had started businesses, and others were identified through peer referrals, but none of these entrepreneurs had any substantial contact with the author prior to the beginning of this thesis project. The main focus of this thesis is to determine whether the major tenets of effectuation, described by Sarasvathy (2003), appear in small to mediumsized entrepreneurial companies. Sarasvathy describes the entrepreneur as having the following traits: controlling the amount of risk at the outset, working through networks to develop capital, material, expertise, and actual product or service, trust in the efficacy of the network, and leveraging contingencies. This latter characteristic refers
to entrepreneurs’approach to risk and future, such that they take advantage of it, so even failure is regarded positively as a means to learn lessons for the next venture. Entrepreneurs do not attempt prediction, because no one can know the future; instead they simply take advantage of what they can access, with an open mind to possibilities. The members of an entrepreneurial network also develop necessary trust that the other members will deliver on their promises, which often refer to their specific contributions. They know who they are, whom they know, what they know, and what they can do, so they build a network of known entities to do “x,” because until and unless they make a group decision about the outcomes of their collective assets, they cannot imagine what the product or market eventually look like. These unknowns seem to generate synergy and excitement, as clearly expressed in the entrepreneur interviews available in the text, as well as on a cassette and video that accompany
the dissertation package. For the most part, all of these entrepreneurs recollected their enjoyment and innovation in making their product and service offerings come to fruition.