When most people think of an entrepreneur, the image of one person often comes to mind, but new research suggests that the benefits of entrepreneurial partnerships may be an overlooked resource when it comes to generating real solutions.
In “Partnerships as an enabler of resourcefulness in generating sustainable outcomes,” Todd Moss, chair, Department of Entrepreneurship & Emerging Enterprises and associate professor of entrepreneurship at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management; Ana Cristina Dahlike Loor, guest professor, Department of Social and Political Environment, IPADE Business School, Mexico; and Fabian Diaz Parada, who is currently working on his Ph.D. at the Whitman School, show how distinct capacity building yields uniquely resourceful behaviors in entrepreneurship.
“Resourceful behavior is not limited to the rugged, individual entrepreneur,” says Moss of the authors’ qualitative study of 11 small enterprises that worked together with a common resource-rich partner in Mexico. “Our study demonstrates that partnerships allow entrepreneurs to ‘do more with less’ in unique ways that are not possible without the partnership.”
According to Moss, partnerships may positively influence venture growth and performance in both economic and prosocial dimensions. The study identifies and delineates partnership-based resourcefulness as conceptually distinct from singular forms, as it is developed through mechanisms such as trust, a sense of togetherness and flexibility that are not often found by just one entrepreneur or “singular actor.” The study goes on to suggests that there are two subsets of this partnership-based resourcefulness: capacity and execution. In this instance, capacity is defined as “the ability or power to behave resourcefully,” which was observed in the developmental nature of relationships between partners, and execution is defined as “the extent to which the behavior is undertaken in practice.”
“We are suggesting that resourcefulness capacity provides both resource-rich and resource-poor ventures with additional opportunities for resourceful behavior through partnerships that are not possible when acting alone,” says Moss. “Resourceful capacity thus allows ventures to draw on the properties of partnerships to achieve additional, complementary sustainable outcomes.”
In addition, the authors’ findings provide a grounded process model of resourcefulness, which, according to Moss, conceptualizes it as a process of capacity development and execution that connects nonmarket logics and informal governance to sustainable outcomes — a direct result of these partnerships.
“Our study demonstrates that partnerships allow entrepreneurs to do more with less in unique ways that just wouldn’t be possible if these partnerships did not exist,” explains Moss. “This has implications for practice in that exploring partnerships are another source of resourceful behaviors available to entrepreneurs and also has societal implications that may help combat a variety of social ills — like reverse migration, college attendance and improved gender egalitarianism — particularly in developing countries. It is our hope that future research will explore the nuances of partnership-based resourcefulness.”
The article has been posted on the Journal of Business Venturing’s website and will be in print later this year.
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