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MBAs v Entrepreneurs. [Bill Taylor]

Bill Taylor (in response to recent future of MBA articles) asks whether its time to stop using ‘students from elite business schools as a proxy for “talent” in the business world’ and adds ‘maybe it’s time to change our minds about what kinds of people are best-equipped to become business leaders’.

He reports on recent research
that asks ‘What makes entrepreneurs “entrepreneurial?” 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 (the research concludes) is an emphatic yes — and the differences boil down to the “causal” reasoning used by MBAs versus the “effectual” reasoning used by entrepreneurs.

The more Sarasvathy (the researcher quoted) explains the differences in the two styles of thinking, the more obvious it becomes which style matches the times. Causal reasoning is about how much you expect to gain; effectual reasoning is about how much you can afford to lose. Causal reasoning revolves around competitive analysis and zero-sum logic; effectual reasoning embraces networks and partnerships. Causal reasoning “urges the exploitation of pre-existing knowledge”; effectual reasoning stresses the inevitability of surprises and the leveraging of options.

The blog post’s worth reading in full.

Here’s Columbia’s Rita McGrath explaining that surprises are to be expected rather than avoided.

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