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"How effectuation, causation and bricolage influence the international performance of firms via internationalisation strategy: A literature review" :

  • Henrik G.S. Arvidsson institute of international business research.


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How eectuation, causation and
bricolage inuence the
international performance of
rms via internationalisation
strategy: a literature review
Dafnis N. Coudounaris
Aalborg University Business School, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark and
School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu, Tartu,
Estonia, and
Henrik G.S. Arvidsson
School of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu,
Tartu, Estonia
Purpose This study aims to investigate the antecedents of the internationalisation strategy i.e.,
effectuation, causation and bricolage on the international performance of the rm.
Design/methodology/approach In total, the study uses 138 peer-reviewed articles on effectuation,
causation, effectual/causal decision-making logics and related issues such as the impact of antecedent factors
of international strategy (i.e. effectuation, causationand bricolage) on the international performance of the rm.
Findings Even though the theory of effectuation was formulated in 2001, to a large extent it has still not
moved away from the realm of small entrepreneurial rms. The development of effectuation logic has
accelerated in recent years, but the bulk of the research still focusses on small entrepreneurial rms rather
than on the application of the theory in larger, non-entrepreneurial rms. Furthermore, effectuation theory
would benet from being developed into the realm of psychology and sociology.
Originality/value This study offers a conceptual model on how effectuation, causation and bricolage
inuence internationalisation strategy, which, in turn, impacts the international performance of the rm.
Furthermore, the study discusses the effectual logic for larger rms. The exponential growth of studies on
effectuation during recent years, i.e. 2017 to the rst quarter of 2020, showsthat researchers have responded
to calls by leading authors stating that effectuation theory is a eld with great potential for further theoretical
developments. This study presents a literature review of the critical issue of the engagement of
internationalisation strategies with effectuation, causation, bricolage and the international performance of the
rm compared to the earlier literature review for the period 20012016 by Matalamäki (2017) and Karami et al.
(2019) on effectuation and internationalisation.
Keywords Effectuation, Causation, Bricolage, Internationalisation strategy,
International performance of the rm, Literature review
Paper type Literature review
The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the two co-editors of this journal
Review of International Business and Strategyfor their constructive comments and suggestions
throughout the review process.
performance of
Received 8 August2020
Revised 2 December2020
30 January 2021
5 February 2021
Accepted 5 February2021
Review of International Business
and Strategy
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/RIBS-08-2020-0092
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
1. Introduction
Sarasvathys (2001) theory of effectuation has clearly left its mark on the eld of
entrepreneurial studies. Her theory was an attempt to describe the mindset of entrepreneurs
and the way they handle the process of starting and running new ventures. The main idea
behind effectuation is the notion that managers do not always apply strategic planning.
According to Sarasvathy (2001), the logic is rather the opposite in smaller entrepreneurial
businesses: smaller businesses lack theresources and knowledge to be able to adopt a causal
logic; therefore, they apply what Sarasvathy (2001) calls effectuation. In her book
(Sarasvathy, 2008), she describes the underlying mechanisms of effectuation and their
process. Furthermore, she describes her approach as one of entrepreneurial knowledge or
expertise, which is dened by interactive and dynamic processes that create new products
and ventures (Sarasvathy, 2001, 2008).
One of the initial questions to ask at the outset with this study is why there is a need for
another review in addition to the ones by Matalamäki (2017) and Karami et al. (2019) in the
eld of effectuation. There has been evidence from previous reviews in the area of
effectuation (Yang and Gabrielsson, 2018;Karami et al. (2019);Coudounaris and Arvidsson,
2019) that the growth in numbers of new papers and their authors who have recently
published in the eld of effectuation is considered exponential, and the motivation for
performing this studystems from this fact. In particular, Coudounaris and Arvidsson (2019)
mention that the exponential growth of studies on effectuation during recent years, i.e.
20172019(2019, p. 1). Additionally, what has been so different in the past few years that
justies another literature review, when already two reviews by Matalamäki (2017) and
Karami et al. (2019) were undertaken recently, is the fact that in the current study the
authors address the critical issue of the engagement of internationalisation strategies with
effectuation, causation, bricolage and the international performance of the rm (Section 2.3
below). The literature review connected to Section 2.3 in this paper provides support for a
new literature review in the eld of effectuation, which would lead the studys research
The increase of publications on effectuation and related concepts can easily be found in
the Scopus and Web of Science databases; the Scopus database is considered by
international scholars to be a good worldwide database for comparisons of the research of
academics. Therefore, any new literature review should be focussed on the Scopus and Web
of Science databases, as well as some other easily accessible databases such as EBSCO and
ScienceDirect. In addition, the subeld of effectuation and internationalisation is a rather
new one, and it offers possibilities for further investigation and theory development.
Furthermore, the focus of this study should be more concentrated on the relationship
between effectuation and internationalisation strategy. Therefore, the study explores a
conceptual model using internationalisation strategy as a central construct and considers
the antecedent factors of effectuation, causation and bricolage. Bricolage was recently
investigated by researchers such as Yang (2018),Servantie and Rispal (2018),Weerakoon
et al. (2019) and An et al. (2020).
The research question of this study is: what has been the focus of recent research
literature during the period 1.1.201731.3.2020 related to the theory of effectuation? It
includes literature on effectuation, causation, bricolage, effectuation versus causation,
effectual versus causal logic, effectuation and internationalisation strategy, and studies of
variously-sized entrepreneurial rms. The study focusses on various databases such as
Scopus, Web of Science, EBSCO and ScienceDirect. Previous literature reviews were broader
in scope and included journals on a variety of levels (Matalamäki, 2017;Kerr and Coviello,
2019;Gregoire and Cherchem, 2020).
The contribution of this study is that it provides a segmented literature review on
effectuation theory and discusses effectual logic for larger rms. Moreover, it reveals that
there are some differences from and similarities with previous, studies, broader in scope,
such as the one conducted by Matalamäki (2017). The present study seeks to identify
streams in the literature on effectuation versus causation such as those connected to the
internationalisation of rms, entrepreneurship and effectuation versus causation in relation
to larger rms and psychology.
In the following sections, the study provides a literature review consisting of a discussion
on causation versus effectuation, effectuation and the internationalisation of rms,
effectuation in the corporate realm of large rms, effectuation through psychological and
sociological perspectives and the development of propositions of a model on effectuation
theory and internationalisation strategy. Furthermore, the study discusses the methodology
used and the ndings. Finally, the study presents a conclusion, the implications and
limitations of the study and the possibilities for future research.
2. Literature review and theoretical background
2.1 Causation versus eectuation in domestic businesses
Traditionally, management theory has been built on the concept of causation (Kotler, 1991).
Conversely, Sarasvathy (2001) dened effectuation as a process that takes a set of means as
given and focusses on selecting between possible effects that can be created with that set of
means(Sarasvathy, 2001, p. 245).
The theory of Sarasvathy is based on four basic principles (Sarasvathy, 2001, p. 252).
However, the underlying logic within effectuation theory is that to the extent we can control
the future, there is no need to predict it. This is in contrast to the logic of causation, which
states that to the extent we can predict the future, we can control it. This means that an
effectuation approach is more suitable when the future is uncertain, and the competence
used comprises skills in exploiting contingencies rather than knowledge (Sarasvathy, 2001).
Additionally, Sarasvathys(2001)theory states that in the process of causation the effect is
given, while in an effectuation process some of the means are given.
She also does not deny that decision-makers can apply both causation and effectuation at
the same time, something that is also supported by Ciszewska-Mlinaric et al. (2016), whose
main contribution is that managers simultaneously apply both logics. This is a conclusion
also shared by Dutta et al. (2015), who makes the case that opportunities are discovered
rather than created, and causation and effectuation are both presented in emerging
The outcomes of applying these different approaches are different in nature. Causation
opts to increase market shares through competitive strategies, while effectuation opts to
create new markets through alliances and other forms of cooperation. Sarasvathys basic
assumptions are supported by Lam and Harker (2015), who conclude that effectuation
challenges ends-driven logic and favours a means-driven form of decision-making. In a
recent study by Arvidsson et al. (2020a), it was found that a shift of decision-making logic
occurs mainly through high-effort processes after the entrepreneurial debut, and during the
study period, attitudes towards a specic decision-making logic were formed mainly
through low-effort processes(p. 1). In addition, the above study found that international
entrepreneurs, during their education and in their initial stages as entrepreneurs following
their tertiary education, have adopted causal logic, but later, because of their gained
experiences, applied effectuation logic. Based on a case study of a rm operating as a
recruiter in the information technology (IT) sector, Arvidsson and Coudounaris (2020b)
found that the decision-making logic of effectuation versus causation was chosen based on
performance of
the expectations and perceptions of the future, meaning that psychological factors
intervened more often than the actual events unfolding(Arvidsson et al., 2020a,p.1).
Sarasvathys theories can be viewed as the opposite to those presented by Philip Kotler,
who denes a market as all of the potential customers sharing a particular need or want
(Kotler, 1991, p. 63). He also presents the order in which the company should act to introduce
a new product or service. He rst states that the company should perform an analysis
regarding the long-term opportunities specic to the market. Secondly, he argues for the
research and selection of the target markets (segmentation). The third step is to design
marketing strategies; the fourth step is to get involved in the planning of the marketing
programmes and the fth and nal step is to organise, implement and follow up the
marketing efforts (Kotler, 1991). Kotler adopts a causation approach in his model, and the
process refers to thesegmentation, targeting and positioningprocess (Kotler, 1991).
Both Kotler (1991) and Sarasvathy (2001) consider managerial decisions as a process, but
there are some differences. Kotler focusses on the means needed to achieve the desired
outcome, while Sarasvathy focusses on what effect can be achieved with the means one has
at ones disposal. The logic is reversed, but the outcome is the same, namely, to maximise
the outcome with the resources found within the company itself (Sarasvathy, 2001). The
difference between the two approaches is how we handle the unknown. Sarasvathy suggests
that the higher the uncertainty, the greater the chance the management team will have to
apply some sort of effectuation logic in the decision-making process (Sarasvathy, 2001).
Instead of assuming, we can predict the future, and therefore, control it, Sarasvathy makes
the opposite assumption: that to whatever extent we can control the future, we do not need
to make predictions regarding it (Sarasvathy, 2001).
Sarasvathy emphasises the effectual network, which she calls a cornerstone of her theory
(Sarasvathy, 2008). The basis of the notion is that cooperation and co-creation are essential
to entrepreneurial business as smaller rms lack the resources to act independently in the
Effectual logic suggests that the future is contingent on the actions or inactions, of wilful
or less wilful agents in the rms micro or macro-environment. It also implies that the means
provide the basis for the rms decisions and subsequently for the nding of new
As previously mentioned, partnerships and strategic alliances play a vital role in
Sarasvathys model. This means that successful entrepreneurs tend to opt for cooperation
and building the market for the product in close or less close cooperation with customers,
suppliers and in some cases, together with direct or indirect competitors (Sarasvathy,2001,
According to the principles of effectuation, the proposition towards contingencies is that
of leveraging them. Surprises can even be viewed as something positive if we manage to
leverage them into new opportunities and ventures. Here, the imagination and attitude of the
entrepreneur play a great role; imagination and satisfaction can be seen as the precursor to
successful entrepreneurship (Sarasvathy, 2008).
Another pillar in effectuation theory is the notion of continuous learning. As rms gain
knowledge, they also tend to strive for changes in their effectual network. In the very
beginning, rms tend to cooperate with anyone interested in cooperation, but as their
understanding of their environment increases, they instead strive to be more selective in
their network partners. This means that the network also changes over time as the rm
evolves into its more mature stages of existence.
While Sarasvathy makes her case for effectuation, she does not rule out the fact that
companies use causation as a decision-making process, meaning it is likely that rms use a
mix of the two. Nor does she argue that one of the two is superior to the other. Firms can also
to a degree use a combination of the two in their managerial processes.
One thing that there is consensus about amongst researchers is that the application of
either logic is not static, even if the question of why and how the shifts occur is a cause for
major debate. Reymen et al. (2015) examined the dynamics of decision-making and
concluded that decision-making logic shifts and re-shifts over time, depending on events in
the rms environment and the development of the rm.
Sarasvathy (2001) states that the main reasons for shifts in the logic applied are the level
of uncertainty and the number of resources owned by that organisation. The more insecure
and unpredictable the environment is, the more it favours effectuation and, conversely, the
more predictable the environment becomes, the more the organisation favours causation
(this notion is also supported by Berends et al. (2014)). Read and Sarasvathy (2005), who also
supports her notion, state that as the rm grows and its knowledge increases, the adoption
of a causal logic becomes more or less necessary. Harms and Schiele (2012) and Politis et al.
(2010) also indirectly support this idea: their study focussed on student entrepreneurs and
which logic they favoured, and the result was that student entrepreneurs tend to favour
effectuation (Politis et al., 2010).
Others, such as Chetty et al. (2013),Sitoh et al. (2014),Maine et al. (2015),Dutta et al. (2015) and
Ciszewska-Mlinaric et al. (2016), make the case for a simultaneous application of effectuation and
causation, while others such as Sarasvathy (2001) and Nummela et al. (2014) argue that there are
periods where one or the other logic is more dominating. Smolka et al. (2018), who examined the
correlation between effectual and causal logic and venture performance, concluded that ventures
benet from applying both logics. There are also more divergent conclusions, such as the one
presented by Lingelbach et al. (2015), who conclude that in emerging economies the context in
which the rm operates inuences the choice of the logic applied by the rm, an idea that in some
ways relates to the conclusion made by Laine and Galkina (2016).
Some argue that the entrepreneur or manager is a factor when it comes to what logic is
applied. Harms and Schiele (2012) argue that the experience of the entrepreneur is the
dominating factor in relation to the choice of applied logic and that experienced
entrepreneurs tend to favour effectuation before causation. Dew et al. (2015) conclude that
the more unpredictable the environment, the more important is the expertise of the
entrepreneur. Djuricic and Bootz (2019) conclude that rms gain knowledge by reading what
they call weak signals, which are later used inthe decision-making process.
Given these diverging conclusions, there is no consensus amongst researchers regarding
the question of why a rm chooses to adopt either logic. Some researchers view the question
of resources as a determinant, while others view the entrepreneur or the institutional
environment as determinants (Laine and Galkina, 2016). The other question is also that of
control. Parida et al. (2016) concluded that causation allows for a higher perception of control
and leads to higher sales. This might relate to the fact that effectuation by its very nature is
means-driven, and causation with its end-driven logic leaves the management with the
perception that they are in control to a higher degree, more than in a setting based on the
bird-in-handprinciple described by Sarasvathy (2001). Therefore, the following research
question follows:
RQ1. How do causation and effectuation relate to domestic businesses?
2.2 Eectuation and internationalisation of businesses
The term effectuation is a decision-making logic that, after being presented by Sarasvathy
in 2001, has almost exclusively been studied in the context of entrepreneurial rms
performance of
operating in a local or national market. However, there have been few studiesexamining the
internationalisation aspects of effectuation. Schweizer (2015) is one of the few authors who
carried out a study with a focus on internationalisation: more precisely, on born globals.
As has been stated, effectuation is a theory that primarily focusses on small
entrepreneurial rms, in the nascent stages of their life. Sarasvathy (2001) focussed almost
entirely on smaller rms, but later also expanded her theory to encompass serial
entrepreneurs and larger entrepreneurial rms.
Research on effectuation has been developed over time from Sarasvathys (2001) thought
experiment to a eld where empirical research dominates. Although the vast majority of
published articles still have the entrepreneurial rm as their main focus, some authors such
as Schweizer (2015) have shifted the focus from the small entrepreneurial-driven rm to the
internationalising rm or other domains as well. Laine and Galkina (2016) connect
effectuation with institutions and institutional uncertainty. Svensrud and Åsvoll (2012)
examine effectuation in relation to innovation and Roach et al. (2016) examine the connection
between effectuation and innovation and conclude that innovation is boosted by the
adoption of an effectual approach.
Svensrud and Åsvoll (2012) also conclude that effectuation strengthens innovation in the
early stages of the rms life, butthey did not factor in events in a larger rm that might lead
to the adoption of an effectual logic. Entering a new market or a change in the institutional
environment might be such events that lead to the adoption of effectual reasoning. The
statement that effectuation in some way strengthens the rms innovative ability is
something that Fiedler et al. (2017) strongly disagree with, as their conclusion points to the
contrary position that effectuation can hinder corporate learning.
Kalinic et al. (2014) conclude that when rms shift from causal reasoning to effectuation,
they are allowed to increase their level of commitment, but in our view, these authors fail to
focus on other issues, such as the cultural context or the history and personality of the
One could argue that the same conditions would apply to larger rms. In larger rms,
managerial structures may favour causation. In addition, at the same time there has been no
research into larger corporations in relation to decision-making logics, and effectuation
The connection to international business in terms of larger rms has not been made in
the same way. Matalamäki (2017) states that during 19982017 there were 81 articles
written about effectuation theory, and only seven of them [related only to small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)] had as their main contribution the issue of
Effectuation theory has been developed from its nascent stage to an intermediate stage,
according to Matalamäki (2017), and therefore, one could make the argument that the theory
should have left the realm of entrepreneurship, and instead be applied to larger businesses,
perhaps, in the process of internationalisation. Chetty et al. (2015) examined the decision-
making process of internationalising entrepreneurial rms and concluded that rms use
different logics when they decide on their target market and when rms later enter it.
There are studies by Pimenta et al. (2017, p. 12) and by Andersson (2011, p. 639), which
stress the need for continued investigation into effectuation.
Sarasvathy (2009) already concluded that there is scientic interest in examining the
effect of the strategies of co-creation and effectuation, even if some work has now been done
(Chetty et al.,2013). The importance of a deeper study is also underlined by Schweizer
(2015), who found that further studies are needed to look more deeply into and challenge the
previous ndings of empirical studies. He also suggests studying small and medium-sized
rms in different industries or countries. This article can be considered as the only one,
which studies effectuation in relation to SMEs, though without an empirical study over time.
Another issue related to effectuation that has been greatly overlooked is that it presumes
that decision-makers apply some sort of rationale. Even though Sarasvathy (2001) assumed
that the personality of the entrepreneur had an impact on the choice of applying one or the
other logic, the problem with that assumption is that it stipulates that humans are mostly
rational beings. Instead, Lee (2018) states that humans are not always in control of their
reasoning and rationale. This should be viewed as one of the weaknesses of effectuation
strategy related to the causal approach.
There is also a conceptual debate amongst effectuation researchers. Arend et al. (2015)
argue that effectuation is an underdeveloped theory and there is a question related to its
validity. Arend et al. (2015) argue that effectuation lacks empirical testing and critical
analysis, a conclusion, which is shared by Perry et al. (2012), who conclude that there is a
lack of empirical studies and that this factor has inherently slowed down the development of
effectuation theory. This criticism is shared by Pimenta et al. (2017), who state that there has
been only minor progress in the development of effectuation theory and that it is crucial to
further enhance the theoretical framework.
Dew et al. (2009) contrast the use of effectuation when it comes to expert entrepreneurs
and novice entrepreneurs (in their case, students). They state that such studies lack
credibility, as alternative explanations can be found as to why expert entrepreneurs think
and act differently. Factors such as age, experience, life history and education are not
considered in effectual research.
The issue of life history and experience as a determinant of the choice of a particular logic
was examined by Nielsen and Lassen (2012). They examined how identity could be
implemented as a factor in effectuation theory, which gives rise to interesting questions.
Sarasvathy (2001) has in a way already assumed in her initial work that entrepreneurs are
different. The question is whether they identify themselves as entrepreneurs or see
themselves as belonging to other social groups in society. In this context, Nielsen and
Lassen (2012) raised important questions that challenge the very fabric of effectuation as
presented by Sarasvathy (2001,2008). According to Nielsen and Lassen (2012, p. 375),
effectuation theory assumes that identity is a relatively stable factor or precondition of the
entrepreneurial process that supports the entrepreneur in ordering preferences in the
process of effectuating resources and stakeholder commitment. The article shows that
identity construction is an active and integral part of the effectuation process, and,
importantly, it inuences how the entrepreneur acts and makes decisions in the process. The
article seeks to challenge and advance the view of effectuation theory on identity, based on a
narrative study of 10 novice student entrepreneurs.
Having examined the relationship between personality, business model and innovative
capabilities, Velu and Jakob (2016) concluded that managers with entrepreneurial traits are
an asset when it comes to the rms innovative ability. Laskovaia et al. (2017) supported this
idea, and they concluded that entrepreneurial reasoning was shaped by traits and the
cultural context in which the rm operated. This conclusion challenges the basic
assumption once presented by Sarasvathy (2001) that rms in uncertain environments tend
to favour effectuation: if personal traits and cultural context are factors to be weighted in,
what amount of inuence do they exert?
This also contradicts the ndings of Engel et al. (2014), who in a similar way to
Sarasvathy (2001), concluded that inexperienced entrepreneurs adopt a causal logic even if
the future is to a high degree unpredictable. Lui (2014) came to a slightly more general
conclusion that small start-ups tend to favour effectuation and are in general means driven.
performance of
Lui (2014) also argued that limited resources force the entrepreneur to adopt an effectual
approach. This incongruence with contradictory conclusions leads us to challenge the
conclusion of Matalamäki (2017) that effectuation theory is nearing its mature stages, even
though there has been an acceleration in the development of the theory in recent years.
Two conclusions that also promote the lack of idiosyncrasy are those made by Chetty
et al. (2015) and Schweizer (2015).Chetty et al. (2015) stated that rms use different logics
when they decide on their target market and when they later enter a market, whereas
Schweizer (2015) concluded that rms tend to use a combination of effectuation and
causation logic regardless of where the rm nds itself in the internationalisation process.
Only recently has the research into effectuation been expanded into an
internationalisation context. In particular, Andersson (2011, p. 639) mentioned that future
research should include effectuation theory when investigating the process of
internationalisation of born globals. In addition, Andersson (2011) provided a critique of
Sarasvathys theory, stating that her theoretical framework is still in its infancy, and also
trying to expand the theory to the realm of expanding large businesses within the
international business environment.
Apart from Andersson (2011), others also stress theneed for further research in thiseld.
Randerson et al. (2016) state that there is clear scientic value in further studying this eld
as there is a lack of empirical testing regarding this framework. According to their
conclusions, previous research has been focussed on the planning and rationalisation of the
entrepreneurial process, but not on the result of its implementation.
Additionally, one can also note that both Chetty et al. (2015) and Schweizer (2015)
challenge Sarasvathy (2001) on the basic assumption that entrepreneurs favour effectuation,
especially in the nascent stages of the rms life. Today, with the emergence of the so-called
born globals, this question is more relevantthan before. Gupta et al. (2016), in their response
to Arend et al. (2016), concluded that effectuation theory could be developed further by
asking the questions how and why.
Andersson (2011), who examined born globals entering foreign markets, views
effectuation as a tool to create opportunities together with network partners. His view is
more utilitarian in nature, and the question at hand is whether effectuation can be used as a
tool for a rm to adopt a causal logic to reach its goals.
Another issue is that there has been no research that measures the outcome of when
rms apply different logics in similar situations, and whether there is a possibility to say
that effectuation is favourable in one situation and causation in another.
Finally, based on 30 studies during the period 2009 to the beginning of 2017 (3 studies
until the beginning of 2017), a review paper by Karami et al. (2019) revealed that most of the
studies were in the eld of entrepreneurial internationalisation. However, one study was on
international comparisons of entrepreneurship, and four were comparative entrepreneurial
internationalisation studies. Therefore, the following research question follows:
RQ2. How does effectuation relate to the internationalisation of businesses?
2.3 Development of propositions associated with eectuation, causation, bricolage,
internationalisation strategy and international performance
Based on recent literature by Servantie and Rispal (2018),An et al. (2020),Nelson and Lima
(2020),Hauser et al. (2020),Yu et al. (2018a), Prashantham et al. (2019) and Karami et al. (2019),a
future conceptual model can be supported and is shown in Figure 1 below. In particular, three
papers by Servantie and Rispal (2018),An et al. (2020) and Nelson and Lima (2020) establish
the link between effectuation, causation and bricolage. In addition, Hauser et al. (2020) stress
that the absence of strategy is one factor that should be looked at. Therefore, the relationship
between effectuation, causation and bricolage with internationalisation strategy is important
for an international rm. Furthermore, Yang (2018) has recently discussed bricolage related to
internationalisation. Finally, Yu et al. (2018b, p. 125) connect effectuation and causation to rm
performance. Consequently, the internationalisation strategy (Figure 1) should be related to the
international performance of the rm. Furthermore, Prashantham et al. (2019) argue that an
effectual approach to network-building may have a negative association with an international
new ventures(INVs) international commitment speed, and a causal approach to network-
building may have a positive association with an INVs international commitment speed.
Therefore, effectuation may be negatively related to internationalisation strategy, and
causation may be positively related to internationalisation strategy.
Moreover, in another recent review by Karami et al. (2019) on effectuation and
internationalisation, in their conceptual model international performance is related to the
mechanisms of networking, co-creation, the logic of control and the unplanned/planned
nature of the effectuation process. Additionally, Kerr and Coviello (2019, pp. 371373)
discuss the importance of effectual networks: for example, why, how and what the network
develops. Kujala and Törnroos (2018, p. 103) in their conceptual framework also associate
the internationalisation process of SMEs from emerging markets with effectuation and
network structure and change. In another paper, Magnani and Zucchella (2019) examine
whether a small entrepreneurial rm when is internationalising can cope with the
Furthermore, according to Gregoire and Cherchem (2020, pp. 628629), effectuation has
benecial effects on new venture performance and growth and a ventures
internationalisation efforts. Bearing this discussion in mind, one can assume that
international performance is related to networking, which is a fundamental aspect of the
internationalisation strategy of the rm. The following four research questions can thus, be
RQ3. How does effectuation relate to the internationalisation strategy?
RQ4. How does causation relate to the internationalisation strategy?
Figure 1
Conceptual model
of the Firm
performance of
RQ5. How does bricolage relate to the internationalisationstrategy? and
RQ6. How does internationalisation strategy relate to the international performance of
the rm?
The above-suggested model can be tested in a future study based on a sample of rms. The
model shows that effectuation, causation and bricolage are the antecedents of the
internationalisation strategy, which, in turn, is related to the international performance of
the rm.
2.4 Eectuation in the corporate realm of large rms
Even though effectuation has moved away from its infant stages, the theory isstill to a large
extent bound together with the study of entrepreneurial rms. During recent years, many
articles have appeared that study effectuation in other contexts, such as international
business and bricolage. The theory has still not been applied to larger rms and especially
larger rms in an international business context. Even though attempts have been made to
study the effectuation phenomenon in relation to international business, and more
specically to the process of internationalisation, the focus of these studies has been on
smaller entrepreneurial rms, SMEs and born globals.
Larger rms have been excluded from the research, and this is in our view one of the
weaknesses of the current stage of research into effectuation. There was only one study
found in existing research that so far has tried to connect effectuation to larger rms: by
Brettel et al. (2012). However, this study investigated the context of R&D and not the
decision-making processes of the rm. Furthermore, Brettel et al. (2012) developed a multi-
factor measurement model of effectuation and causation. One interesting conclusion is that
Chetty et al. (2015) found that rms use different logics when they decide on their target
market and when they later enter the market. Why should there be a distinction between
smaller and larger rms in this respect? In our view, it might well be the case that larger
rms adopt an effectual logic under some circumstances.
The theory of effectuation would benet from an expansion of the research focus from
smaller to larger rms. Smaller rms face challenges that can be slightly different when it
comes to resources, but in our view, larger rms face similar problems as well.
One factor that might reduce the relevance of effectuation theory in relation to larger
rms is built into its very nature: smaller rms often lack the resources that are found in
larger ones and then naturally opt for effectuation as the logic of choice. In comparison,
larger rms with their larger resources and an often-higher degree of knowledge, opt for
causation. In our view, there are times when larger rms would benet from the adaptation
of an effectual approach, such as in the process of internationalisation, rather than when the
rm has little knowledge of thetarget market or when the barriers to entry are high.
At this point, effectuation theory is by no means mature, as there is only moderate
consensus amongst researchers, and the theory is, as previously mentioned, still primarily
applied in the context of smaller entrepreneurial rms.
The major criticism towards effectuation maybe that presented by Arend et al. (2015).
Effectuation was rst formulated as a thought experiment, with theprecondition already set
that entrepreneurs as a group were to a certain degree homogenous. Already from the
beginning, Sarasvathy excluded factors such as personal traits, education, age and other
factors that might inuence the way a person thinks and acts.
If we also consider these factors, we might nd a tendency towards applying one or the
other logic. Some people, in light of their experience, traits, age and cultural context will
favour effectuation, while others will opt for a causal approach. The issue here is that the
same can be applied to human behaviour. Rogers (1967) states that a holistic approach must
be taken to understand a person and his or her behaviour. If this can be applied to
entrepreneurs, one might conclude that what Sarasvathy (2001) calls effectuation is no more
than a set of behaviours that can be identied not only amongst entrepreneurs but also in
the population as a whole.
Harmeling (2011) concludes that we need richer and more inclusive theories of
management and entrepreneurship to examine why people pursue their obsessions and turn
them into ventures. To do this, in our view, we should look beyond the current scope of
effectuation and penetrate the realm of sociology and psychology and better examine how
factors such as personality, culture and history inuence our decision-making.
Daniel et al. (2015) attempted to connect effectuation to sociology in general, and new
institutional theory specically, when they concluded that the principle of affordable loss
can be applied and extended to social acceptance, an important principle in a new
institutional theory. Reuber et al. (2016) also support this conclusion when they argue for the
need to further explain the impact of habit and not only focus on creativity. Nevertheless,
there has been little research linking psychology, sociology and effectuation. Karri and Goel
(2008) were the rst to challenge the notion that entrepreneurs are a homogeneous group,
and that factors such as attitudes and psychological traits have an impact on decision-
making. Following this study, not much has been done in this eld, even though Alsos et al.
(2016),Velu and Jakob (2016),Laine and Galkina (2016),Hannibal (2017) and Magalhaes and
Abouzeid (2018) have made the argument that there are sociological and psychological
factors inuencing the decision-making. So far, there has been at least one problem when it
comes to establishing a link between psychology and effectuation: there has been an
assumption that all managers possess a certain common set of traits. This is an idea that
initially was presented, consciously or unconsciously, by Sarasvathy (2001), and as
described above, not many researchers have challenged it.
The main issue with effectuation as a theory is that there is still no consensus on the very
basic assumptions, such as how effectuation and causation are applied, and whether they
are engaged simultaneously, as argued by Schweizer (2015) and Ciszewska-Mlinaric et al.
(2016). In comparison, as suggested by Sarasvathy (2001), both elements, i.e. effectuation
and causality, are in succession, meaning that effectuation leads to causation as the rm
gains resources and knowledge. Finally, Chetty et al. (2015) argue that there are periods in
the rms life cycle where one or the other logic is dominant. Dutta et al. (2015) conclude that
both effectuation and causation are applied by ventures operating in emerging industries,
and therefore, one can argue that Sarasvathys (2001) assumption is valid.
This lack of consensus also transcends the question of innovative ability. Roach et al.
(2016) and Urban and Heydenrych (2015) argued that effectuation boosts innovation, while
Fiedler et al. (2017) suggested that too much emphasis on effectuation can hinder corporate
learning, something that arguably can hinder innovation.
Finally, to reach its mature stage, effectuation theory should move from smaller and
often entrepreneurial-driven rms to larger ones, which are often internationalised rms.
Researchers should also examine deeper mechanisms behind the choice of a certain logic:
these factors can be cultural or more connected to the manager and be present on a
psychological level.
There should be more empirical research because the current state of disagreement
points to a less developed theory. Maybe in the future researchers will argue that the theory
will plausibly reach more mature levels, but now effectuation is still a highly disputed area
of research.
performance of
3. Method
The literature review of this study is focussed on articles published by peer review
journals during the period January 2017 to March 2020 following Matalamäkis (2017)
work, which was based on the period 20012016. In the current study, we have
managed to download 138 papers available from a total of 150 entries on Scopus and
Web of Science (excluding proceedings or conference papers) from the period 01/01/
201731/3/2020. This study uses a number of available databases for the collection of
papers in this literature review on effectuation. In particular, the following databases
are used in this study, namely, Google Scholar, EBSCO Discovery, Science Direct and
Scopus and Web of Science web pages, which produced 138 papers. We used the
keywords effectuation, causation, effectual and causal in our searches for papers in
the above databases. Further, we analysed the 138 papers one by one and the themes
were reached by reading and classifying each paper in the 6 sub-disciplines discussed
in Section 4 regarding the ndings. Furthermore, we specify that we used the content
analysis method, which is discussed below.
The steps undertaken in the data collection and analysis followed the systematic
literature review approach, and we followed the steps by Traneld et al. (2003).This
methodology was initially established in medicine research (Murlow, 1994;Sackett
et al.,1996) and later was adopted in management research (Traneld et al., 2003), in
health research (Robinson and Lowe, 2015) and in entrepreneurship research (Kraus
et al., 2020). While conducting a systematic review, the seminal paper published by
Traneld et al. (2003, p. 214) followed the 3 stages and the 10 phases adopted by the
NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (2001). According to Traneld et al.
(2003),to reduce human error and bias, systematic reviews use data-extraction
forms. These often contain general information (title, author and publication details),
study features and specic information (details and methods) and notes on emerging
themes coupled with details of synthesis(pp. 216217). In the current analysis, the
authors developed the appendix, which includes all the involved 138 papers in the
study and showing information such as authors, publication, method, title, the key
ndings of each study and research themes. Then the study, based on the key ndings
of the appendix (fth column) developed the research themes (Appendix,sixth
column). Based on these research themes, the study developed and synthesised ve
categories of research themes, as shown in Table 2:
(1) Effectuation and related topics (59 papers).
(2) Causation and related topics (32 papers).
(3) Bricolage and related topics (6 papers).
(4) Entrepreneurship and related topics (30 papers).
(5) Other (11 papers).
Additionally, there was a further synthesis of the research themes into 38 different sub-
categories, as shown in Table 2. Finally, the study developed Table 1, which indicates the 78
most popular outlets/publications of the 138 papers.
A coding protocol content analysis(Krippendorf, 2004) was developed to include an
analysis of the research themes and some other characteristics such as the categorisation of
the papers into outlets. The content analysis method was used in other studies with the
exception that the current authors investigate in the present study only the research themes,
the journal outlets used, and some characteristics of authorship. Other issues have not been
investigated, for example:
The authorsdemographics, i.e. numbers of authors per paper, institutions, authors
country, authorsdisciplines, location of authors, type of authorsdiscipline.
The manuscripts characteristics i.e. the number of tables/gures, pages, references
and citations per paper (Inkpen and Beamish, 1994;Coudounaris et al., 2009;
Leonidou et al., 2010).
For the analysis of the research themes in the articles published in Scopus and Web of
Science and other databases during the period 1.1.2017 to 31.3.2020, all articles were rstly
classied by primary discipline areas such as effectuation, causation, causation versus
effectuation and entrepreneurship and then further narrowed down to sub-disciplines, with
each article classied accordingly. The study then develops an analysis of articles by sub-
discipline in terms of frequency (Findings below). Furthermore, the allocation of each article
was done according to each of the above four disciplines and later to each of the sub-
disciplines based on the major issue discussed in the article.
4. Findings
Data for the present study were collected by using the bibliographic database Scopus, Web
of Science and other datasets such as Google Scholar, EBSCO Discovery and Science Direct.
In total, 138 articles were found and are examined in the Appendix.
To reveal important ndings, the study used Excel extensively to summarise the data
le with the 138 papers and their authors.
The study reveals that amongst the 138 publications found at Scopus and Web of Science
data sets 78 papers were published in journal outlets, as indicated in Table 1 above. The
remaining 60 papers were published in separate outlets. In total, the 138 papers were
published in 77 journals.
Table 1 above, which is based on the Appendix (second column), shows that authors
prefer to publish articles on effectuation and related aspects in Small Business Economics (18
Table 1.
Most popular outlets
of papers on
effectuation found at
Scopus and Web of
Science data sets
Names of peer reviewed journals No. of published papers
Small Business Economics 18
Journal of Business Research 9
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 5
Entrepreneurship and Regional Development 5
International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal 5
Industrial Marketing Management 4
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 4
Technological Forecasting and Social Change 4
Education þTraining 4
Journal of Business Venturing 3
Management Decision 3
Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal 3
International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research 3
International Small Business Journal 2
BRQ Business Research Quarterly 2
Journal of Management and Organisation 2
Kybernetes 2
Total 78
Information is taken from the Appendix, second column
performance of
papers), Journal of Business Research (9 papers), Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice (5
papers), Entrepreneurship and Regional Development (5 papers) and International
Entrepreneurship and Management Journal (5 papers). In addition, it can be seen that other
journals are suitable for the area of effectuation, namely, Industrial Marketing Management,
Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Technological Forecasting and Social
Change, Education and Training, Journal of Business Venturing, Management Decision,
Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal and International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour
and Research.
Analysis of the authorship of the 138 papers (363 authors) reveals that during the period
1.1.2017 to 31.3.2020 the most frequently published were, namely, 4 papers (Sarasvathy, S.);
3 papers (Shirokova, G., Guo, R., Jiang, Y. and Yang, M.); and 2 papers (Galkina, T.,
Laskovaia, A., Morriss, M.H., Zhang, Y., van Burg, E., Edvardsson, B., Mauer, R., Brettel, M.,
Crick, J.M., Crick,D., Magalhaes, R., Parida, V., Wincent, J., De La Cruz,M.E., Verdu-Jover, A.
J., Gras, J.M.G., Gabrielsson, P., Ghezzi, A., Cui, L., Kerr, J. and Coviello, N.). Furthermore, the
average number of authors who published the 138 papers is 363/138, which is 3 authors per
paper. Finally, the study reveals that there is onepaper with 6 co-authors, 8 papers with 5 co-
authors, 18 papers with 4 co-authors, 42 papers with 3 co-authors, 50 papers with 2 co-
authors and 19 papers with a single author. This information shows that half of the 138
papers have more than 3 co-authors (69 papers) and the remaining half 2 co-authors (50
papers) or solo authors (19 papers).
Furthermore, the Appendix (sixth column) shows the recent themes investigated during
the period 1.1.2017 to 31.3.2020. Analysis of the sixth column of the Appendix reveals the
various categoriesof research themes/disciples andsub-disciplines, which have mostly been
investigated. Table 2 below summarises the various categories of research themes.
Table 2 reveals 4 popular categories of research themes/disciplines in terms of frequency
of papers (numbers of papers) during the period 1.1.2017 to 31.3.2020, as follows:
effectuation and related topics (59 papers or 42.75%), causation and related topics (32 papers
or 23.19%), entrepreneurship and related topics (30 papers or 21.74%) and bricolage and
related topics (6 papers or 4.35%). In addition, 6 important sub-disciplines are covered by
authors publishing in this eld, namely, effectuation (29 papers or 21.01%), causation and
effectuation (15 papers or 10.87%), causal and effectual logics (10 papers or 7.25%),
entrepreneurship (10 papers or 7.25%), effectual logic (8 papers or 5.80%), effectual logic
and entrepreneurship (5 papers or 3.62%) and effectuation and entrepreneurship (4 papers
or 2.90%). The following themes appeared in three separate papers: effectual
entrepreneurship, effectuation and entrepreneurial behaviour, bricolage/causation/
effectuation, entrepreneurship and internationalisation and entrepreneurial decision-making
logics. In addition, the following themes were segmented based on two papers, namely,
effectual orientation, effectuation and internationalisation, causal logic, causal and effectual
logics in entrepreneurship, bricolage and effectuation, entrepreneurship and ecosystem
entrepreneurial behaviour and entrepreneurial orientation. Finally, another 11 papers could
not be classied in any of the previous categories.
Finally, the study reveals (Appendix,rst column) that 39 papers were published in
2017, 47 papers in 2018, 31 papers in 2019 and 21 papers up to 31.3.2020.
Based on an Excel le, the authors show how the effectuation concept was diachronically
developed. In particular, the 138 papers were published during the period 1.1.2017 to
31.3.2020. Moreover, the study of the titles of the 138 papers included in the Appendix
reveals that there are:
15 studies, which investigate effectuation versus causation (3 additional studies
include effectuation, causation and bricolage).
10 studies associating start-ups with effectuation.
Eight studies associating new ventures with effectuation.
Seven studies on effectuation/causal and effectual logics/entrepreneurship/networks
and internationalisation.
Four studies on causal and effectual decision-making logic.
Separate studies connecting culture with effectuation, sports organisations with
effectuation, R&D with effectuation, IT with effectuation, education with
effectuation, digital platforms with effectuation, tacit knowledge with effectuation,
social entrepreneurship with effectuation.
Table 2.
Research themes
investigated during
the period 1.1.2017 to
Main research themes/
No. of times in the
138 papers Main research themes/disciplines
No. of times in the
138 papers
Effectuation and related topics
Bricolage and related topics (6)
Effectuation 29 Bricolage 1
Effectual logic 8 Bricolage and effectuation 2
Effectual entrepreneurship 3 Bricolage, causation and
effectuation 3
Effectual logic and
entrepreneurship 5Entrepreneurship and related
topics (30)
Effectual orientation 2 Entrepreneurship 10
Effectual networking 1 Entrepreneurship and ecosystem 2
Effectuation and
entrepreneurship 4 entrepreneurship theory and
empirical trends 1
Effectuation and
entrepreneurial behaviour 3 Entrepreneurship and
internationalisation 3
Effectuation and
internationalisation 2 Entrepreneurial decision-making
logics 3
Effectuation orientation 1 Entrepreneurial behaviour 2
Effectuation theory 1 Entrepreneurial orientation 2
Causation and related topics
Entrepreneurial effectuation and
causation 1
Causation and effectuation 15 Entrepreneurial logic 1
Causal and effectual logics 10 Entrepreneurial marketing 1
Causal logic 2 Entrepreneurial methods and
effectuation theory 1
Causal and effectual logics in
internationalisation 1 Entrepreneurial model 1
Causal and effectual logics in
entrepreneurship 2 Entrepreneurial theory 1
Causal and effectual coping 1 Entrepreneurial thinking 1
Causal to behavioural logics 1 Other (11)
Networks and internationalisation 1
Theory of affordable loss 1
Other topics 9
Total 91 Total 47
Based on the sixth column of the Appendix
performance of
Other studies associating SMEs and multinational enterprises (MNEs) with
Some studies investigating uncertainty with effectuation.
Some studies developing the theory of effectuation.
Finally, effectuation logic is examined in different contexts, i.e. the Swiss, Italian, Kuwaiti,
Ethiopian, Tunisian, Moroccan, Ghanaian, South Saharan, Chinese, Russian, New Zealand,
Indian, Nicaraguan, American and Brazilian contexts. Within the past three years, 2017
2020, effectuation logic has been connected to different sectors, i.e. energy, law,
pharmaceuticals, software/IT and education and they show the great potential of
The present study shows a greater varietyof studies on effectuation/causation compared
to Matalamäki (2017) study, supporting the idea that effectuation as a theme of investigation
is still at the growth stage rather than the maturity stage, as claimed by Matalamäki (2017).
Additionally, based on the methods used by the 138 papers (Appendix, third column),
most of the papers were qualitative studies (59), qualitative case studies (11), case studies
(13), quantitative studies (32) and mixed-methods studies (5). The rest of the papers were
conceptual studies (5), literature reviews (6), longitudinal case studies (4), longitudinal
qualitative studies (2) and one longitudinal quantitative study.
Furthermore, based on the key ndings in the Appendix (fth column), the study reveals
that there are at least 22studies that use effectuationtheory in other elds such as in student
education and pedagogics, micronance markets, the tourism industry, R&D, frugal
innovation, sports organisations, business incubation, software development teams, the
creation of new artefacts, legal theories, software platforms, the metaphor of dance, A.I.
robots, law, EU law, social rights, human and machine interface, legislative efforts, angel
investors on their investment valuations, student entrepreneurs, engineering master
students and high-tech new ventures.
Based on the ndings above, it can beconcluded that research on effectuation is growing
exponentially, as the number of studies during the period 2017 to 2019 were 124, plus 14
during January to March 2020, in comparison with the 81 studies on effectuation found by
Matalamäki (2017) during the period 20012016.
Bearing in mind the ndings above, one can argue that there is a novelty in this eld
associated with the evolution of new themes of research during this period 2017 to the rst
quarter of 2020, namely, effectuation related to start-ups, causal and effectual decision-
making logics and effectuation related to internationalisation strategy. The study suggests
that the antecedents of internationalisation strategy, which, in turn, are associated with the
international performance of the rm, are based only on recent literature after January 2017
until the end of March 2020. Therefore, there is the possibility of further advancement to be
made in the eld of effectuation based on the themes that have been investigated, which
comprise less than four papers (Table 2 above). In comparison with the study by Karami
et al. (2019), this study has revealed that only 7 studies or 5% of the 138 explored studies,
(Table 2) are associated internationalisation with entrepreneurship (3), effectuation (2),
causal and effectual logics (1) and networks (1). This supports the logic that in the following
10 years more studies will be focussed on these relationships.
5. Conclusions, implications, limitations and future research
5.1 Conclusions
The debate regarding effectuation has been going on for a long time, and, has become
entrenched. There are deeply diverging perspectives on effectuation as a eld of research. One
can clearly identify rstly a converging group that consists of, amongst others, Read et al. (2016)
and secondly, a diverging group led by Arend et al. (2015), who loudly voice their criticism of the
theory as a non-scientic one, which has not been proven in practice.
Naturally, there is a discourse amongst scientists, but what is at the same time
fascinating is that, even if the theory was rst formulated in 2001, there is still an ongoing
debate about its validity. What constitutes a mature theory is in general some sort of
consensus amongst researchers regarding its validity and content. There might be
diverging views, but still, to a high degree, there is a consensus, at least about the core
One problem can be that humans need to classify and simplify things they observe.
Effectuation and causation are two faces of the same coin. Instead of looking at the
underlying factors such as traits, personality, history and education, we assume that one
group of people are homogenous and share similar traits. As has already been stated,
effectuation and causation may just be manifestations of behaviours determined by other
factors, and the fact that the person is an entrepreneur may be less important than his/her
accumulated life history.
Is there still a gap to be lled for effectuation as a eld of research? In our understanding,
there is, as effectual behaviour is not expressed simply because a person is an entrepreneur,
but because of personal and cultural factors. There is still scope to claim that the focus
should be on attempts to understand the underlying reasons why a person has chosen,
consciously or unconsciously, to adopt effectuation or causation in a certain context.
It may also be the case that the size of the rm plays a less important role than
researchers have thought. If managers are persons with their own history and cultural
context, the choice between effectuation and causation may be more or less determined by
the leader and not by the situation. Different people tend to act in different ways in the same
situation. For example, one group of individuals tend to follow pre-set rules, while others
tend to adapt when the situation changes.
If we regard effectuation as a manifestation of a certain behavioural pattern, it is better to
describe how people adopt this logic. For various reasons, entrepreneurs as a group tend to
favour effectuation before causation. It may be the case that a certain mindset, in general,
needs to be followed by a successful entrepreneur, but the assumption that entrepreneurs as
a group favour effectuation might be a mistake.
Some researchers claim that entrepreneurs overlap or simultaneously adopt both logics,
and that might very well be the case. However, all individuals adopt different logic based on
their own set of unique traits, strengths and weaknesses. The choice to opt for one or the
other logic may be determined by factors that have been largely overlooked by researchers
who focus on effectuation.
The future of effectuation theory should be linked to psychology, and it should examine
whether there is a possibility that entrepreneurs share a set of traits. What wesee lacking in
the theoretical frameworkare personal, cultural and group factors, even though Sarasvathy
(2001) mentions the entrepreneur in a personal context.
5.2 Implications, limitations and future research
This study reveals that investigations into effectuation in larger rms are scarce, and that
studies on effectuation in the internationalisation process are also limited. However, there
has recently been a plethora of investigations on effectuation in different case studies in
diverse industries, indicating the enduring interest of researchers in the eld of effectuation.
In addition, this study nds that during the period 20172018 effectuation research is still
growing exponentially, in contrast to Matalamäkis discussion (Matalamäki, 2017, p. 935),
performance of
where he expects a transition of effectuation research moving towards the mature phase,
which is not the case. Moreover, this study is compatible with the ndings of Matalamäkis
investigation (Matalamäki, 2017, p. 935) in that most papers in the current study use
qualitative methods (73) and not so many studies use empirical/quantitative methods/
mixed-method (39). Furthermore, this study agrees with the suggestion in the previous
study by Matalamäki (2017, p. 936) that effectuation logic is used in new ventures, start-ups
and established rms such as MNEs (Yang and Gabrielsson, 2017;Dash and Ranjan, 2019).
Regarding the theoretical implications of this study, one can argue that future empirical
studies should be focussed on internationalisation strategy based on its antecedent factors
(i.e. effectuation, causation and bricolage) and its impact on the international performance of
the rm. In terms of managerial and practical implications, chief executive ofcers should
use under different circumstances both causal and effectual logics. Both logics have their
own strengths and weaknesses in practice. Additionally, Appendix shows that there are at
least 21 studies that use effectuation theory in different elds, indicating the diffusion of
effectuation theory to other cases except those related to new ventures, start-ups and the
internationalisation of rms. Finally, effectuation logic is explored in different contexts in
Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North America and Latin America.
A limitation of this study is that it depends on a relevant good sample, but its reliability
and validity are questionable. A longitudinal study covering more periods could reveal
phases of the life cycle of the investigations. This study reveals that effectuation is
nowadays linked to many different elds and industries covering many industries, e.g. IT,
law, tourism, engineering and the arts. It is clear from the above analysis that investigations
on effectuation have expanded into different continents, industries and professions. The
exponential increase of publications on effectuation shows that effectuation is still in the
stage of growth rather than the maturity stage, as claimed by Matalamäki (2017).
There is a need to further develop the theory of effectuation from the realm of
entrepreneurship into other areas. That process has already started, but there is a need for
further steps to be considered. Furthermore, it is important to investigate how effectuation is
applied in larger rms, and, in particular, larger rms in the process of internationalisation
(Dash and Ranjan, 2019).
There is also value in examining the underlying factors behind the choice of one or the
other decision-making logics. The issues of personal characteristics/traits of the manager
and the cultural context in which the person operates can both be useful for the adoption of
one or the other logics.
An evolution of the theory is necessary not only in terms of expanding it from
entrepreneurial rms to other areas but also to investigate the manager as a person, his/her
history and traits. This has been analysed in the context of the transformation of ideas into
ventures by Murdock and Varnes (2018), but not in the context of larger rms. They
concluded that projects change following changes in the managerial team. In other words,
humans affect the nature of the venture. This means future research should be re-oriented
from a theory based on invention, creativity and entrepreneurship towards a theory that
considers other factors, such as the realms of sociology and psychology.
Forthcoming research should be related to the future development of effectuation theory,
which should be linked to psychology and sociology, andit should examine whether there is
a possibility that entrepreneurs share a set of personality traits. What we see lacking in the
theoretical framework of recent literature (from 2017 to the rst quarter of 2020) are personal
traits, even though Sarasvathy (2001,2008) mentions the entrepreneur in a personal context.
However, current literature examines cultural factors (Laskovaia et al.,2017;Magalhaes and
Abouzeid, 2018) in relation to effectuation. Other future studies should be focussed on less
investigated themes that have been explored less than four times in different journals, as
shown in Table 2 above. The area of effectuation has been solely investigated in 29 new
papers published recently (Table 2 above), showing that this theme has been explored
exponentially. Consequently, new future publications are expected to investigate other
aspects of effectuation theory such as effectuation in connection with the
internationalisation process and the linkage between entrepreneurial rms, together with
internationalisation, causal and effectual logics in internationalisation, bricolage related to
internationalisation and networks and internationalisation. In particular, effectual networks
as a research area have been little researched with only one recent investigation by Galkina
and Atkova (2020). A recent literature review by Sedziniauskiene et al. (2019) revealed that
although little is known and proven about the effective impact of networks on the
entrepreneurial internationalisation(pp. 817818). They suggest that various nancial,
export promotion programmes (Coudounaris, 2012b;Coudounaris, 2018a) and the
development of entrepreneurship or investor attraction programmes can initiate early
internationalisation (Coudounaris, 2018b;Coudounaris, 2020) and sustainable development
in foreign countries. Furthermore, Sedziniauskiene et al. (2019) suggested that policymakers
should initiate programmes to facilitate rms to develop all types of networks domestically
and globally. These networks could lead to new contacts and accelerate the transfer of
knowledge and resources.
Furthermore, a new study by Peng et al. (2020) states that there is a non-linear effect of
effectuation and causation on new venture performance(pp. 114115) and this should be
considered in future studies when investigating the internationalisation process of new
ventures. Additionally, researchers should investigate the relationship between effectuation
and divestment (Coudounaris et al., 2020) or effectuation and the exit of subsidiaries
(Coudounaris, 2017). Finally, researchers should consider developing attitudinal studies
similar to the one, which was performed by Coudounaris (2012a), but this time in relation to
internationalisation strategies with effectuation, causation, bricolage and the international
performance of the rm. In addition, researchers should investigate the role of psychic
distance (Coudounaris, 1984) in relation to the decision-making logic adopted by a manager
for higher international performance.
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Further reading
Arruda, G.C.M. and da Cunha, J.P. (2018), Desenvolvimento humano sustent
avel no semi
arido do
nordeste do brasil: Da constitucionalização à efetivação dos direitos sociais,Seqüência: Estudos
Jurídicos e Políticos,Vol. 39 No. 79, pp. 139-168.
Malgonde, O., Hevner, A., et al. (2017), Finding evidence for effectual application development on
digital platforms, In A. Maedche (Eds): Desrist 2017, LNCS 10243, pp. 330-347. DOI: 10.1007/
Tokunaga, S., Martinez, M. and Crusat, X. (2018), Engaging on entrepreneurship the effectual logic
behind the entrepreneurship journey,2018 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference
(EDUCON), 17-20 April, pp. 637-642, Canary Islands, Spain.
Xu, Y. and Koivimaki, T. (2019), Digital business model effectuation: an agile approach,Computers in
Human Behavior, Vol. 95, pp. 307-314.
Authors of the
Titles of the papers
Key findings
1 Hannibal (2017)Journal of
Qualitative case
Enacted identities in the university
spin-off process-bridging and
imaginative gap
Effectuation allows for re-use of academic
2 Matalamäki, M.J. Journal of Small
Business and
Literature review Effectuation, an emerging theory of
entrepreneurship towards a mature
stage of the development
Effectuation theory is still undeveloped Effectuation
3Galkina and
Henriksson (2017)
Qualitative study Coopetition as an entrepreneurial
process: Interplay of causation and
Competitive interactions combine
effectuation and causation
Causation and
4Laskovaia et al.
Small Business
National culture, effectuation and new
venture performance: global evidence
from student entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurial reasoning is shaped by traits
and by the cultural context in which the rm
Effectuation and
5. Hes et al. (2017) De Gryer Open Qualitative case
Comparison of four micronance
markets from the point of view of
effectuation theory complemented by
proposed musketeer principle
illustrating forces within village
Adding the musketeer principle to the ve
principles laid out by Sarasvathy
6 Fiedler, A., Fath,
B.P. and
Whittaker, D.H.
International Small
Business Journal
Qualitative study Overcoming the liability of
outsidership in institutional voids:
trust, emerging goals and learning
about opportunities
A too strong dependence on effectuation can
hinder corporate learning
7 Pimenta, A.,
Azevedo, R. and
Pereira, M.
IXPEGE Literature review Effectuation: a study of concepts use There has only been minor progress in the
development of effectuation theory. The
authors nd it crucial to further enhance the
theoretical framework
8Di Pietro et al.
Journal of Service
Qualitative study A scaling up framework for
innovative service ecosystems:
lessons from Eataly and KidZania
An extended conceptualisation of service
innovation is obtained, grounded in a
framework of four drivers of scaling up:
effectuation as the basis for creating the
Table A1.
The authors,
methods, titles and
key findings of the
138 papers during
the period 1.1.2017
performance of
Authors of the
Titles of the papers
Key findings
value proposition; sensing and adapting to
local contexts; the reconguration and
alignment of resources and forms for
collaboration between actors; and values
9Song et al. (2017) Chinese
Case study How do entrepreneurs learn from
critical events? A case study of critical
event learning
Entrepreneurial critical event learning
correlates with the legitimacy, competency
and dominance of entrepreneurial behaviour
script and leaves a positive inuence on the
quality improvement of entrepreneurial
10 Maritz (2017) Education þ
Literature review Illuminating the black box of
entrepreneurship education
programmes: Part 2
Distinct contextualisation, entrepreneurship
ecosystems and recent content innovation in
entrepreneurship are so far excluded from
and ecosystem
11 Pereira, I.N.,
Bartholo, R.,
Silva, E.R. and
Proenca, D.
Latin American
Research Review
Qualitative study Entrepreneurship in the Favela of
Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro: a critical
Based on the Brazilian environment, this
research shows that effectuation can be used
to describe entrepreneurial activities in
Effectuation and
12 Vershinina et al.
Journal of Small
Business and
Qualitative study Logics and rationalisations
underpinning entrepreneurial
Expert entrepreneurs tend to opt for causal
logic when the stakes are high
Causal logic
13 Sugheir and
Neupert (2017)
The Journal of
Case study Effectuation and valuation: cannabis
and glass
Provides an overview of a developing
14 Vihikan et al.
Telekomnika Quantitative
Foreign tourist arrivals forecasting
using recurrent neutral network
backpropagation through time
Provides a model that predicts demand in the
tourism sector
Other topic
15 Günzel-Jensen
and Robinson
Education þ
Effectuation in the undergraduate
classroom: three barriers to
entrepreneurial learning
There are three obstacles to using
effectuation. These are inexperience
(noviceness), regarding the project as a
school project, the perceived lack of
Effectuation and
Table A1.
Authors of the
Titles of the papers
Key findings
legitimacy of both the instructors and the
16 Long et al. (2017) Kybernetes Quantitative
How does entrepreneurial opportunity
affect the decision-making process of
effectuation? Evidence from China
The empirical results show that patterns of
opportunity discovery have signicant
positive effects on effectuation
17 Ortega et al.
Qualitative study Effectuation-causation: what happens
in new product development?
Effectuation works better in uncertain
environments, but hybrid behaviour can be
Causation and
18 Frederiksen and
Brem (2017)
and Management
Qualitative study How do entrepreneurs think they
create value? A scienticreection of
Eric Rieslean startup approach
Effectual logic can be found throughout the
book with emphasis on both experimental
and long-term planning
Effectual logic
19 Jones and Li
and Regional
Qualitative study Effectual entrepreneuring: sense-
making in a family-based startup
Opportunities are created rather than
20 Karmowska et al.
British Journal of
Qualitative study A contingency analysis of precarious
organisational temporariness
A conventional linear approach of target
setting, and performance management will
be less effective than an ongoing process of
communication and consultation
Other topic
21 Cai et al. (2017) Journal of Small
Effectuation, exploratory learning and
new venture performance evidence
from China
Effectuation has a positive effect on new
venture performance
22 Pesch et al. (2017) Environment and
Qualitative study Niche entrepreneurs in urban systems
integration: on the role of individuals
in niche formation
The ndings show that for the successful
formation of niches, it is necessary to create
ambitious, but clear goals and matching
concrete operational plans
23 Shirokova, G.,
Osiyevskyy, O.,
Morris, M.H. and
Bogatyreva, K.
and Regional
Qualitative study Expertise, university infrastructure
and approaches to new venture
creation: Assessing students who
start businesses
The ndings of this study indicate that
university entrepreneurship-related activities
such as curricular programming and
nancial support play a differentiating role
in the proclivity towards causal or effectual
Causal and effectual
Table A1.
performance of