Professor Profiles: Saras D. Sarasvathy, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we focus on Saras D. Sarasvathy from the University of Virginia (UVA) Darden School of Business.

Saras D. Sarasvathy is the Paul M. Hammaker Professor in Business Administration at UVA Darden, and she also teaches doctoral-level courses at schools in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Sarasvathy wrote her dissertation at Carnegie Mellon on entrepreneurial expertise and has parlayed that into a specialization in the area of “effectuation,” which examines the creation and growth of new organizations and markets. Her book Effectuation: Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009) examines the way entrepreneurs think. In addition to serving on the editorial boards of various management journals, she writes a monthly column for the Economic Times. In 2015, UVA awarded Sarasvathy the Mead-Colley Honored Faculty Award for her active engagement with students. In 2007, Fortune Small Business magazine named Sarasvathy one of 18 top professors in the field of entrepreneurship.

Students we interviewed feel that Sarasvathy, who has been teaching at Darden since 2004, is one of the up-and-coming scholars of entrepreneurship in the world. One alumnus described her to mbaMission as “very encouraging, supportive. She allows people to share ideas rather than looking for the right answer.” Another told us that he found himself in her “Starting New Ventures” class by mistake; he had lingered too long in the classroom after his previous class had ended and was still there when Sarasvathy’s class began. He was so impressed by her teaching that he added her course to his schedule, even though he was already overloaded. He found even at that first lesson that she “challenged conventional beliefs,” and he was “impressed at her insights and the way that she articulated basic assumptions to bring out the less obvious, deeper levels.”

For some interesting perspectives on entrepreneurship and business, see Sarasvathy’s presentations on BigThink at

For more information about UVA Darden and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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