UVA Darden Effectuation Pioneer Receives Global Legacy Impact Award

By Dave Hendrick

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Saras Sarasvathy has been recognized on a global stage for her pioneering work in the field of entrepreneurship.

Sarasvathy on 29 September received the Legacy Impact Award from the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC) at the organization’s annual conference in Stockholm, Sweden, for her research on effectuation, a framework for thought and action used by expert entrepreneurs to build successful ventures.

“When Saras unpacked what makes entrepreneurs ‘entrepreneurial’ over 20 years ago, she made a dent in the intellectual firmament,” said Sean Carr (MBA ’03, Ph.D. ’13), executive director of the Darden School’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Now, through the power of her ideas and her own tireless efforts, the principles of effectuation have become an inspiration for countless scholars, students, educators, entrepreneurs and leaders around the world. She is the patron saint of entrepreneurial thinking and action.”

The five principles of effectuation, first described in Sarasvathy’s seminal 2001 paper, “Causation and Effectuation: Toward a Theoretical Shift from Economic Inevitability to Entrepreneurial Contingency,” proved to be enormously empowering to a generation of entrepreneurs, providing easy-to-understand tools to navigate the uncertainty of the venture creation environment.

Today, a range of business leaders and entrepreneurs credit Sarasvathy with providing them with the intellectual underpinning to found and grow thriving enterprises.

The research also took hold in academia, spurring a thriving sector of entrepreneurial study across the world, with dedicated effectuation courses of study at universities and incubators from Denmark to Pakistan. The Society for Effectual Action, an online portal for entrepreneurship educators to share research and teaching material, supports more than 400 educators.

Sarasvathy’s award-winning 2011 book, Effectual Entrepreneurship, has been translated into six languages.

“Our GCEC review committee felt that few educators have had as much impact on university entrepreneurship as Saras,” said Brad Burke, executive director of the GCEC. “The committee felt that Saras has been a force of nature in driving effectuation into the shared language and teaching in entrepreneurship. We are very pleased to recognize Saras as recipient of this year’s GCEC Legacy Award”

Sarasvathy is the sixth person in the GCEC’s history to receive the Legacy Impact Award.

The Darden professor engages deeply with students at Darden, teaching in the full-time MBA, Executive MBA and Ph.D. program, and principles of effectuation are woven throughout Darden’s thriving entrepreneurship offerings.

“I continue to be gratified and moved by the global influence of effectuation,” said Sarasvathy. “It’s an enduring privilege to work and study with practitioners and teachers on the topic and I’m deeply honored to be recognized by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers. A special thanks to people who work at these centers and support and enhance thought leadership.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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David Hendrick
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia