TUTCRIS - Tampereen teknillinen yliopisto


Effectuation as a Framework for Organizational Partnership Building: Making a structure from apparently unstructured behaviour



KustantajaTampere University
ISBN (elektroninen)978-952-03-1359-3
ISBN (painettu)978-952-03-1358-6
TilaJulkaistu - 13 joulukuuta 2019
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Monografiaväitöskirja


NimiTampere University Dissertations
ISSN (painettu)2489-9860
ISSN (elektroninen)2490-0028


This doctoral thesis aims to discover how effectuation appears in organizational
partnership building. The research also aims to explore how contextual factors affect partnership building, and how effectuation may help to explain contextually different partnership-building acts. Partnerships are currently considered as crucial success factors in all industries. A vast literature base exists that approaches partnerships from various viewpoints. Effectuation and causation are two contrasting processes regarding decision making in organizations. Causation is coherent with planning approaches that are founded on finding opportunities, conducting predictions and pre-defined goals. Effectuation is coherent with learning/adaptive approaches and is characterized by experimentation, creating opportunities by utilizing the contingencies and resources at hand, and dynamic partnerships. Rather than pursuing pre-defined goals, the goals emerge as an output of an effectual process. Effectuation is linked to business settings that are characterized by a high level of uncertainty. Such settings are typical of start-up companies but may occur for established companies as well.
The objectives of this research were to strengthen and confirm the effectuation
theory in the context of partnership building and to form new knowledge on
partnership building particularly under the dominance of effectuation. The research was conducted as a comparative case study of four firms operating in Finnish software companies. The collected data, mostly based on interviews of top management, was analysed through the lens of effectuation theory. Furthermore, the data was also analysed in an open-ended way to enable new findings on effectual partnership building. The findings of this research indicate that effectuation is strongly detectable in partnership-building acts in particular contexts. The findings deepen prior knowledge of the connection between effectuation and partnership building, particularly describing the special characteristics of effectual partnership building. Prior research has provided empirical evidence of partnership orientation in both the effectual and causal approaches. However, the differences in these two partnership-building processes have not been very comprehensively covered in the prior literature. The results of this thesis also contribute to the co-existence and interplay of effectuation and causation. The research clarifies the roles of these two
processes as different, yet effective partnership-building approaches when utilized in an appropriate situation. As a result of this research, a suggested model of partnership-building archetypes was formed. These archetypes illustrate four different partnership-building profiles, defined by certain key variables. Although the model is preliminary, it may be useful in outlining future research attempts on effectuation and partnership building. The model contributes to practical management work as well: understanding effectuation helps companies to attain the unique benefits that effectuation may provide. Such benefits include higher sensitivity for innovations, lower costs for testing the viability of new business ideas, and overall more relevant and sustainable partnerships. The research suggests further research avenues for deepening the understanding on the contextual factors that affect partnership building. Furthermore, the iterative refining of the presented model of partnership-building archetypes is proposed.