Causation and effectuation behaviour of Ethiopian entrepreneurs: Implications on performance of small tourism firms

Shiferaw Muleta Eyana*, Enno Masurel, Leo J. Paas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the implications of causation and effectuation behaviour of Ethiopian entrepreneurs on the eventual performance of their newly established small firms. It adds new knowledge and insights to advance the theory of effectuation by extending its scope into the domain of entrepreneurial behaviour and firm performance and by testing one of the operationalized scales in an African context. Design/methodology/approach – This empirical research is conducted amongst Ethiopian tour operators (n=118) based on primary data from the field. The scales are based on Chandler et al. (2011), which are adapted to fit to the tourism sector and validated in an African context using a two-stage exploratory factor analysis (EFA). Hierarchical multiple regression is used to assess the ability of entrepreneurs' behaviour (i.e. causation and effectuation) at the startup phase to predict the eventual performance of their newly established firms (self-reported changes in employment size, sales, profit and assets) over three years (January 2012-2015). Findings – The findings reveal a varied effect of causation and effectuation on financial and non-financial measures. Causation is positively related to an increase in employment size, whereas the overall effect of effectuation is positively related to financial performance measures, although its dimensions vary in their effects on sales, profit and assets increase. The paper concludes that causation and effectuation have varied implications on firm performance. In other words, unlike the findings of other research in Western contexts, a strong empirical support is not found to claim that effectuation is superior to causation in outcomes such as firm performance in Ethiopian context. Research limitations/implications – While this paper provides a new data set for entrepreneurship literature, its findings may lack generalisability. Not only it is industry specific (tourism sector), but also it is conducted in a single African country (Ethiopia). Despite its limitations, the paper adds new knowledge and insights for empirical studies in entrepreneurship field on the effects of entrepreneurs' behaviour, such as causation and effectuation; on firm performance. Future research should focus on other economic sectors and in different African countries before making generalisations about the effect of causation and effectuation behaviour of African entrepreneurs on firm performance. Practical implications – The findings of this paper can be used in other hospitality and tourism sectors like hotels and souvenir shops since tour operating business includes a broad range of service activities such as sightseeing, accommodation, transportation, recreational activities and shopping. Besides, these results have practical implications to prepare and provide business and management training tools to enhance entrepreneurial and managerial skills of owners of small tourism firms in Ethiopia. The findings of the study can also be applied in other African countries with similar culture and business environments to promote tourism development and success in Africa. Originality/value – There have been hardly any empirical studies that are undertaken on the implications of entrepreneurial behaviour such as causation and effectuation on the performance of small tourism firms, particularly in an African context. The paper addresses this research gap in entrepreneurship literature in drawing on empirical evidence from small tourism firms (tour operators) in Ethiopia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-817
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Small Business and Enterprise Development
Issue number5
Early online date6 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • Causation
  • Effectuation
  • Entrepreneurial behaviour
  • Ethiopia
  • Firm performance
  • Small tourism firms


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