Andrea Contigiani, Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business will discuss his paper.
Modern entrepreneurship emphasizes the practice of experimentation. The mainstream view among practitioners suggests that running rapid and frequent experiments through minimum viable products is critical to building innovative and successful ventures. While scholars have recently begun to explore the topic, there has been no systematic investigation of this phenomenon in the strategic management literature. As a consequence, while the learning benefits of experimentation are mostly undisputed, our understanding of its costs remains limited. This paper seeks to address this gap by proposing a theory of experimentation in early-stage ventures. Guided by the value-based strategy framework, I argue that four causal mechanisms drive the impact of experimentation on venture performance: information, adaptation, reputation, and imitation. The analysis generates a series of testable propositions describing the main effect of each mechanism and the role of the primary moderating factors. This conceptual framework suggests that experimentation is not always optimal, and its performance impact is contingent upon organizational and environmental features.