Journal of Business Venturing
Call for Papers for a Special Issue
Getting More for Less: The Role of Resourcefulness in Entrepreneurship
Trenton Alma Williams, Indiana University
Eric Yanfei Zhao, Indiana University
Gerard George, Singapore Management University
Scott Sonenshein, Rice University
Deniz Ucbasaran, University of Warwick
Submission Process and Deadlines
Resourcefulness is a central concept of entrepreneurship and is frequently invoked to explain how entrepreneurial actors "find a way" to innovate, create, and turn ideas into reality. Indeed, resourcefulness is so central to entrepreneurship that it has in many ways become a ubiquitous concept that is generally assumed. Unfortunately, the perceived ubiquity of resourcefulness in entrepreneurship has stunted scholarly inquiry into the what resourcefulness is; who resourceful actors are; why and when actors are resourceful and with what consequence; and how actors are resourceful.
Exploring resourcefulness is critical given its potential role in addressing a fundamental question of entrepreneurship. Broadly speaking, entrepreneurship can be understood as "the process by which individuals-either on their own or inside organizations-pursue opportunities", or "future situations that are both desirable and feasible" (Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990: 23). Importantly, this process involves both the simultaneous pursuit of opportunities and mobilization of resources that may or may not yet be within the entrepreneur's control (Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990: 23), which stands in contrast to the "non-entrepreneurial resource trustee focused on carefully protecting resources" (Baker and Nelson, 2005: 358). Thus, a central question for entrepreneurship scholars is: What explains the process by which actors simultaneously pursue opportunities and enact resources without regard to currently controlled resources?
Traditionally, scholars have addressed this question by exploring how entrepreneurial actors acquire (Barney, 1991) and/or recombine (Galunic & Rodan, 1998; Shane, 2012) resources that are valuable. The argument goes that entrepreneurs must acquire resources to pursue opportunities given the disadvantages associated with liabilities of newness (Stinchcombe, 1965). Given these assumptions, scholars have drawn heavily on resource-based view theories to examine how new ventures solicit and obtain valuable resources through equity financing, venture capital, angel investing, and-more recently-crowdfunding (see Drover et al., 2017 for review). While important, these resource acquisition techniques typically impact a relatively small share of all new ventures (i.e., high-growth, high-impact firms) and do not account for the full array of resourcing techniques employed by entrepreneurs (Clough et al., 2019). Indeed, we know that resources do not have a "fixed use" (Sonenshein, 2014: 816), and that actors employ a "wide scope for judgement" (Penrose, 1959: 42) in how resources are brought (Sonenshein, 2014), assembled (Reuer & Koza, 2000), enacted (Baker and Nelson, 2005) and deployed (Penrose, 1959) to a generate various forms of value. Therefore, entrepreneurship research has (to date) failed to fully explain a central question of entrepreneurship-the process by which actors pursue opportunities without regard to resources they currently control.
Therefore, despite frequent references to the concept of resourcefulness in the literature as an explanation of the central question, we lack convergence on how resourcefulness is defined and understood across levels (individual, team, firm, context, and institution); the broader nomological network of resourcefulness including antecedents and outcomes (across levels); and how resourcefulness influences the processes by which actors pursue opportunities.
In this special issue, we seek to advance scholarship on resourcefulness and how it relates to important entrepreneurship processes and outcomes. We define resourcefulness as a property that allows actors to get more from less, by identifying novel and clever ways to bring, assemble, and deploy resources. Why resourcefulness and not other, related concepts? First, resourcefulness does not require a condition of low resources as a spark (Sonenshein, 2017). This differentiates it from other constructs such as bricolage (Baker & Nelson, 2005), which assumes a penurious environment as the context wherein actors convert what is considered useless to something useful. While bricolage certainly is a resourceful behavior, it does not capture the full breadth and depth of resourcefulness and thus its impact on key outcomes (e.g., growth, performance, innovation, and so forth). Indeed, there are other situations where actors are resourceful in resource-rich contexts (Sonenshein, 2014, 2017), which leads one to ask: why would someone choose resourcefulness when they could do something else?. Second, resourcefulness does not require a condition of Knightian uncertainty, which is assumed to be a pre-requisite for employing an effectuation-based logic to problem-solving (Sarasvathy, 2001). Therefore, like bricolage, effectuation can certainly be resourceful, but it does not capture the full notion of the construct. Indeed, resourcefulness could occur under a variety of conditions, which leads one to ask: when is resourcefulness helpful, when is it not? Finally, resourcefulness is likely to manifest in a variety of ways across levels of analysis. These could include cognitive, practice, and material behaviors. We know little of these diverse forms of resourcefulness and if/how they impact outcomes over time.
We invite submissions that draw upon and integrate the variety of theoretical lenses associated with resourcefulness in the literature. This should facilitate the exploration of the context and conditions surrounding resourcefulness. For example, submissions could explore (1) the theoretical foundations of resourcefulness (economics, sociology, and psychology literatures); (2) resourceful assembling of resources such as bricolage (Baker & Nelson, 2005; Lévi-Strauss, 1966), making the most of current resources (Bhide, 1992; George, 2005; Winborg & Landström, 2001), frugality (Blechman, 1991; Geroski et al., 2010), and re-defining the application of an object or group of resources (Penrose, 1959; Sonenshein, 2014); (3) creative bringing/identification of resources (Dharwadkar, George, & Brandes, 2000; Rosenbaum, 1980, 1988)through innovative thinking in problem solving (Sarasvathy, 2001), sensemaking, sensegiving, and meaning making (Gantz, 2000, 2003; Lévi-Strauss, 1966) and storytelling, or other cultural tools to obtain legitimacy (Gehman & Soubliere, 2017; Lounsbury & Glynn, 2001; Zhao et al., 2017; Zhao, Ishihara, & Lounsbury, 2013); (4) creatively deploying or recombining resources such as human or social capital (Burt, 2005; Kotha & George, 2012; Williams & Shepherd, 2018) and deploying novel financing tactics such as bootstrapping (Winborg & Landström, 2001) to extend the use and application of existing financial resources.
In drawing on these various theoretical lenses, we encourage submissions that focus on at least some of the following core concepts: (1) The concept of resourcefulness and its sub-components across levels (individual, team, organizational, institutional, and cultural); (2) Antecedents and consequences of resourcefulness; (3) The context and conditions when resourcefulness is manifest, applied, and effective.
Contributions to this special issue may address (but are not limited to) the following research questions:
The concept of resourcefulness
Antecedents of resourcefulness
Consequences of resourcefulness: Performance
Context and conditions when resourcefulness is manifest, applied, and effective
Connect to the Division