Understanding Effectuation Theory as an Entrepreneurial Cognitive and Behavioral Process in Firm Creation and Expansion to Create Local, Contextual Knowledge in Morocco

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Norman St. Clair


Alison Buck


Michael Forrest


The purpose of this 2-year case study in the Kingdom of Morocco was to understand the entrepreneurial cognitive and behavioral processes expressed in the creation and expansion of a venture by American owners and Moroccan and American team members. The study used an interpretative design and narrative analysis methodology to develop themes. In the first phase of the study, I interviewed the co-founders and associates to learn to what extent the five principles of effectuation theory and other entrepreneurial cognitive processes played a role in the first few years of the school’s creation. In the second phase, I worked in tandem with, observed, and recorded the expansion team’s sessions during the spring months of 2017 to July of 2019. Themes that emerged from the data were persisting and resilience, maneuvering ambiguity, shifting assets, creative and collaborative solutions, and weighing options and developing criteria. The data tell us that cultural context, original aspirations, and social/human/spiritual capital ground the entrepreneurial decision-making experience in Morocco and are entwined with the principles of effectuation. A design plan was generated from the findings to create local, contextualized knowledge for the community of learners in Morocco. It documents creation elements and informs future practice for the purpose of building entrepreneurial expertise. Future research might include the mitigating role of spirituality in persistence of entrepreneurship, the virtue of trust in intercultural studies, and the emotional and psychological trauma associated with failure or threats to life-long investments.

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