Partnerships as an enabler of resourcefulness in generating sustainable outcomes

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Author Information : Todd W. Moss (Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management)
Ana Cristina Dahik Loor (IPADE Business School)
Fabian Diaz Parada (Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management)

Year of Publication : Journal of Business Venturing (2021)

Summary of Findings : Through a qualitative study of 11 small enterprises in business partnerships with a common partner in Mexico, we show how distinct capacity building yields uniquely resourceful behaviors.

Research Questions : 1) How are nonmarket logics and informal governance related to resourcefulness?
2) How are the nature of business relationships related to resourceful behaviors?
3) How are resourceful behaviors related to sustainable outcomes?

What we know : Entrepreneurs have long been known to act resourcefully, often due to resource scarcity and liabilities of newness, in order to start and grow their firms profitably. Resourcefulness is a property that allows individuals and organizations to get more from less by identifying novel and clever ways to bring, assemble and deploy resources. Commercial and social entrepreneurs have been shown to act resourcefully when resources are scarce in their efforts to generate economic and prosocial outcomes. Yet, this scarcity assumption as a prerequisite for resourceful behavior has been questioned in recent years. Some firms choose to be resourceful even when resources are plentiful to improve creativity, avoid complacency and maximize time and effort, thus improving performance. Despite these differences, the common theme running throughout the literature is that resourcefulness is undertaken by singular actors (entrepreneurs and organizations) to achieve start-up survival and long-term performance outcomes.

Novel Findings : While the entrepreneurship literature has focused on resourcefulness by singular actors, it has generally overlooked resourcefulness at other levels, such as partnerships. This oversight is noteworthy because partnerships may positively influence venture growth and performance in both economic and prosocial dimensions. We make three contributions in our study. First, we extend the literature by identifying and delineating partnership-based resourcefulness, a form of resourcefulness that is conceptually distinct from other more individual-based forms. Partnership-based resourcefulness is developed through mechanisms such as partners’ trust in one another, sense of togetherness and flexibility that are absent when resourcefulness is conceptualized strictly at the level of the singular actor. Second, we suggest that resourcefulness exists as two subsets of capacity and execution. We use the term capacity in this paper as the ability or power to behave resourcefully—which we saw manifest in the developmental nature of relationships between actors—while the execution of resourceful behavior is based on the extent to which that behavior is undertaken in practice. We suggest 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. Resourcefulness capacity thus allows ventures to draw on the properties of partnerships to achieve additional, complementary sustainable outcomes. Third, we provide a grounded process model of resourcefulness, wherein we conceptualize resourcefulness as a process of capacity development and execution that connects nonmarket logics and informal governance to sustainable outcomes. These outcomes arise as a direct result of the partnerships, such as reverse migration, college attendance and community improvements.

Implications for Practice : Resourceful behaviors are not limited to the rugged, individual entrepreneur. Our study demonstrates that partnerships allow entrepreneurs to "do more with less" in unique ways that are not possible without the partnership. So, exploring partnerships are another source of resourceful behaviors available to entreprepreneurs.

Implications for Society: Especially in developing countries, the types of partnerships in our study are helpful at combating social ills due to many benefits: enabling children to attend college, improving gender egalitarianism, keeping families together rather than fathers crossing borders to find work, etc.

Implications on Research: We hope that future research will explore the nuances of partnership-based resourcefulness, as well as stages of resourcefulness such as capacity and execution.

Full Citations : Moss, T.W., Dahik, A., & Diaz, F. (2021). Partnerships as an enabler for resourcefulness in generating sustainable outcomes. Journal of Business Venturing.

Abstract : Resourcefulness research has provided many insights into how entrepreneurs do more with less, yet these studies are focused primarily on resourceful behaviors undertaken by singular actors. However, partnerships may also behave resourcefully to positively influence venture growth and sustainable outcomes. Through a qualitative study of 11 small enterprises in business partnerships with a common resource-rich partner in Mexico, we show how such partnerships yield uniquely resourceful behaviors. Our analysis also reveals that such partnership-based behaviors require distinct capacity building for resourcefulness. We thus extend theory by creating a process model in which resourcefulness mediates the relationship between nonmarket logics/informal governance and sustainable outcomes.

Todd Moss
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