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Effectuation, an emerging theory of entrepreneurship – towards a mature stage of the development

Marko Juhani Matalamäki (Department of Management, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 31 July 2017

Issue publication date: 30 October 2017




The purpose of this paper is to address the stages of development of effectuation theory and highlight the progression from the early years’ conceptual articles to the recent empirical papers, characterized by specific, measurable research questions.


In total, 81 peer-reviewed academic journal articles featuring effectuation as a main subject were analyzed using Scandura and Williams’ (2000) modified version of McGrath’s typology of research strategies. The framework of Edmonson and McManus (2007) is employed to evaluate the maturity of the research program.


The main outcome is to introduce four main streams linked to effectuation theory in the current scientific dialogue: innovation and product development, internationalization, effectuation and causation simultaneously, and entrepreneurial expertise.

Research limitations/implications

The current study is reliant on retrospective data, which might influence the accuracy and completeness of this study, which typically leads to rationalized versions of history-associated causal decision making.

Practical implications

This study illustrates why effectuation theory should no longer be associated only with new ventures and startups. The majority of recent studies have presented the results of effectuation logic in the context of established companies.

Social implications

This follow-up review presents evidence that effectuation research has moved on from the nascent to the intermediate stage of development. Furthermore, the results indicate that it has already begun its transition toward the mature stage of development.


This study reveals the ongoing spirited battle between the convergent and divergent groups involved in the scientific debate around effectuation theory.



Matalamäki, M.J. (2017), "Effectuation, an emerging theory of entrepreneurship – towards a mature stage of the development", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 928-949.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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