Marketing under uncertainty: The logic of an effectual approach.

How does one approach marketing in the face of uncertainty, where the product, the market and the traditional details involved in market research are unknowable ex ante? We use protocol analysis to evaluate how 27 expert entrepreneurs approach such a problem, compared to 37 managers with little entrepreneurial expertise, with all 64 subjects being asked to think aloud as they make marketing decisions in exactly the same unpredictable situation. Our hypotheses are drawn from literature in cognitive science on (a) expertise in general and (b) entrepreneurial expertise in particular. Results show significant differences in heuristics used by the two groups. While those without entrepreneurial expertise rely primarily on predictive techniques, expert entrepreneurs tend to invert these. In particular, they use an effectual or non-predictive logic to tackle uncertain market elements and co-construct novel markets with committed stakeholders.

Journal or Publication:
Journal of Marketing
Saras Sarasvathy
Stuart Read
Nick Dew
Rob Wiltbank
Michael Song
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