Do what you can, with what you have: Entrepreneurial orientation and bricolage within artistic-artisan firms

ENTREPRENEURSHIP (Prof.ssa Zucchella)

Do what you can, with what you have: Entrepreneurial orientation and bricolage within artistic-artisan firms


Objectives. Artistic craftsmanship represents a composite reality, including firms that realize products of high aesthetic value, combining manual techniques with a high professional content (Cavalli, 2011). Since artisan enterprises are often the result of a secular artistic and productive tradition, rooted in the territories they belong to, craftsmanship constitutes a unique cultural heritage and an important factor shaping territorial identity (Micelli, 2011). Furthermore, craftsmanship represents a fundamental economic and productive resource and a form of widespread employment that feeds local economy and small productions, creating social stability and sustainable development possibilities. According to Gordini and Rancati (2015), there is a distinction to be made between craftsmanship and artistic craftsmanship: “a product can be defined as belonging to the artistic craftsmanship when it does not rely exclusively on technical ability, on site-specific tacit knowledge, on traditions petrified in repetitive activities and routine. Instead, it hinges on innovation, creativity, inspiration, genius, creation of new models, on the effort to contaminate and hybridize tradition with new and contemporary ideas” (p. 170). Therefore, entrepreneurial dynamics and behaviors can play a crucial role within this peculiar productive fabric, mainly made up of micro- and small and medium-sized enterprises (Cavalli, 2011). Nevertheless, artistic-artisan firms have been largely neglected by entrepreneurship scholars and scant research efforts have been made to explain the interplay between logic and outcomes of entrepreneurial practices in this specific context (Gordini and Rancati, 2015). The present paper aims to bridge this gap by empirically investigating the role of Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO) and Entrepreneurial Bricolage (EB) in the performance of artistic-artisan microfirms. More specifically, the paper addresses the mediating effect of EB on the relationship between EO and the subjective performance of these firms, focusing on Friuli Venezia Giulia, a region of northern Italy.

EO is one of the most stabilized concepts in the field of entrepreneurship and finds its roots in the work of Miller (1983), who defined an entrepreneurial firm as the one that “engages in product-market innovation, undertakes somewhat risky ventures, and is first to come up with proactive innovations, beating competitors to the punch” (p. 771). This definition entails the core dimensions of EO, that is innovativeness, risk-taking and proactiveness (Covin, 1989). Innovativeness relates to the extent that firms are able to innovate their business operations, engaging in new ideas, products and approaches to take advantage of consumers’ changing tastes and desires. Risk-taking indicates the degree to which a firm can push its desire to take actions even when the outcome is unknown and uncertain. Proactiveness refers to a firm’s ability to anticipate and predict future products and services, and make efforts to provide them.  According to Lumpkin and Dess (1996), who expanded the original conceptualization, EO “refers to processes, practices and decision-making activities that lead to new entry” (p. 137). Over the last decades, much empirical evidence has been provided regarding the positive impact of EO on organizational performance and growth (Zahra and Covin, 1995; Dess et al., 1997), also in the context of small and medium enterprises (Wiklund and Shepherd, 2003; Riviezzo et al., 2013; De Clercq et al., 2015). But yet, studies aimed at investigating the relationship between EO and performance of artistic-artisan firms are to a large extent still lacking. Actually, the importance of artisans to the entrepreneurship literature has been recognized only in recent years (Ratten et al., 2019), when the emerging field of artisan entrepreneurship has begun to make its way within the wider field of cultural entrepreneurship (Crowley, 2019). This growing interest towards artisan entrepreneurship has brought some insight into artisans’goals, personal characteristics and their role to regional development (e.g., Gordini and Rancati; 2015; Hoyte, 2018; Marques et al., 2018). Nevertheless, as highlighted by Crawley (2019): “there is limited research on how entrepreneurial behavior manifests within this particular domain of contemporary entrepreneurship” (p. 262).

#artistic craftsmanship #entrepreneurial bricolage #Entrepreneurial Orientation #Italy #microfirms