Although it is reported that early venture decisions are influenced by the relationships and common history of entrepreneurial team members, little is known about how the mutual interests and ambitions experienced in the pre-start-up phase provide a shared and relational context for joint decisions. Drawing on a multiple case study approach of nine entrepreneurial teams in new ventures, this study identifies the shared pre-start-up moments of transition during which team members’ prior work and life patterns start to change. We show that in these intense moments, shared entrepreneurial cognition evolves among team members—the relationality of which provides a unique social context for decision behaviors. Our findings conclude that effectual behaviors advance a theory of context because in simultaneously working with effectual and causal logics (albeit with varying intensities), team decisions are realized that are consistent with the relational context that emerges in the pre-start-up moment.
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As team decisions might be the result of multiple causes, other potential effects from meaningful factors were explored that were not the focus of our study, such as team founding experience and uncertainty (Sarasvathy 2001; Reymen et al. 2015), as well as firm industry, size, and age (e.g., Souitaris and Maestro 2009). No distinct patterns emerged considering these factors.
As to be expected, cofounders also expressed individual views that were not shared by all team members. However, in most of these cases, we found equivalent views of other cofounders that were not identical in their content but similar in their direction, allowing an aggregation on the more abstract level of our themes. In the rare case that we were unable to find an equivalent for a selected view, we verified that it did not affect our findings and decided to neglect it in all cases.
As not all shared cognitions fell neatly into one category, we coded according to the predominant characteristics within each case.
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We thank Katrin Hussinger and Petra Andries and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on previous versions and Rocky Adiguna for co-coding.
This research is funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).
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Tryba, A., Fletcher, D. How shared pre-start-up moments of transition and cognitions contextualize effectual and causal decisions in entrepreneurial teams. Small Bus Econ 54, 665–688 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-019-00148-7