Abstract

Much of what organizations do is intended to avoid or contain the impact of surprise events. This insight is commonplace across a broad range of organizational theorizing. Most theory about avoiding or dealing with surprise events presumes an organization that is relatively established and endowed with adequate resources. Requisite controls and well-functioning routines are uncharacteristic of the typically young and resource-constrained start-ups that are the focus of much entrepreneurship research and theory. Mainstream organizational theories therefore do little to inform our understanding of how founders and their firms deal with surprises and mostly lead to predictions of entrepreneurial helplessness in the face of surprise events. Although prior work in entrepreneurship provides scattered suggestions, we lack a cohesive understanding of how entrepreneurial firms respond to surprise events.

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