Leveraging effectual means through business plancompetition participation

Kayleigh Watson, Pauric McGowan, Paul Smith

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Objectives This paper explores whether the Business Plan Competition [BPC], as a characteristically causational mechanism for extracurricular entrepreneurship education, can provide the resources which underpin an effectual approach to new venture creation. Prior Work Extracurricular BPCs assume a presence in 69% of English HEIs (NCEE, 2013). This is symptomatic of continued preference for a rational and causal business plan approach to entrepreneurship education but negates a growing appreciation that entrepreneurs often assume an effectual approach to new venture creation (Bridge and Hegarty, 2013; Read et al, 2011; Sarasvathy, 2008). This broader effectual turn places a new emphasis on the need for entrepreneurship education participants to be encouraged to assume an effectual approach and questions the real value of traditional approaches that centre upon production and judgement of a business plan (Williams, 2013). Approach The paper draws insight from in-depth, open-ended qualitative interviews undertaken with competitors of a regional university-based extracurricular BPC at the start, end and six months after their participation. This multiple sequential interviewing approach (Charmaz, 2003) served as an advantageous way of gaining longitudinal accounts of BPC participation which would allow any identification of effectual means within this experience. Results The BPC explored was facilitative of the means which could be used to assume an effectual approach. In terms of ‘who you know’ the competition afforded valuable networking opportunities and collaborative contacts. The competition enhanced ‘what they know’ through enabling the acquisition, development and application of key competencies. Participants were able to gain and project a confident sense of ‘who they are’ as a venture, changing perceived identity from a student project toward a credible and viable business prospect. Indications of these acquired means enduring in the six months following participation was strong. Implications A plan dominant education context does not automatically impede utilisation of an effectual approach. Attention needs to be given as to how it can consciously be promoted to participants so that resources acquired in such a context can be used effectually. Value The paper is novel in its exploration of effectuation within what might be deemed an anti-effectual context. This of interest to those seeking to incorporate an effectual agenda within entrepreneurship education provision without the resources, radical change and support needed to overhaul business plan centricity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventInstitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Conference - Manchester
Duration: 6 Nov 2014 → …


ConferenceInstitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Conference
Period6/11/14 → …
Internet address


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