What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial?

from Harvard Business Publishing:

MBAs vs. Entrepreneurs: Who Has the Right Stuff for Tough Times?

Specifically, is there such as thing as “entrepreneurial thinking” – and does it differ in important ways from, say, how MBAs think about problems and seize opportunities?

The answer, [Prof. Saras] Sarasvathy [Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia] concludes, is an emphatic yes – and the differences boil down to the “causal” reasoning used by MBAs versus the “effectual” reasoning used by entrepreneurs. Causal reasoning, she explains, “begins with a pre-determined goal and a given set of means, and seeks to identify the optimal – fastest, cheapest, most efficient, etc. – alternative to achieve that goal.” This is the world of exhaustive business plans, microscopic ROI calculations, and portfolio diversification.

Effectual reasoning, on the other hand, “does not begin with a specific goal. Instead, it begins with a given set of means and allows goals to emerge contingently over time from the varied imagination and diverse aspirations of the founders and the people they interact with.” This is the world of bootstrapping, rapid prototyping, and guerilla marketing.