Strategic Entrepreneurship in Craft-Based Ventures

Submission Window: October 15, 2022 to November 1, 2022

Strategic entrepreneurship (SE) is entrepreneurial action with a strategic perspective (Hitt, Ireland, Camp & Sexton, 2001). It captures firms’ efforts to consider both opportunity-seeking (i.e., exploration) and advantage-seeking (i.e., exploitation) behaviors to create value and a sustainable competitive advantage – end goals of both strategic management and entrepreneurship (Hitt, Ireland, Sirmon & Trahms, 2011). Traditionally, it was argued that large, established firms were challenged to be more entrepreneurial, while smaller, entrepreneurial ventures were challenged to be more strategic. On-going research has demonstrated that SE is a nuanced concept that plays out differently beyond the large/small, young/old divide. Indeed, significant gains in our understanding of SE – its value and complexity – have been found by examining a range of organizational forms (e.g., public, private, family) and contexts (e.g., institutional development, technological intensity). However, these treatments have largely overlooked a historically critical type of venture that is becoming increasingly relevant once again – the craft-based venture (e.g., Cattani, Dunbar, & Shapira, 2017; Kuhn & Galloway, 2015; Mathias, Huyghe, Frid, & Galloway, 2018).

While craft-based ventures have often been used as an interesting context to advance established theories, recent research has argued that craft deserves more dedicated attention (Bell et al., 2018; Kroezen, Ravasi, Sasaki, Żebrowska, & Suddaby, 2021). Following popular philosophical work (e.g., Adamson, 2018; Bennett, 2010; Crawford, 2009; Sennett, 2008), scholars have argued that craft is associated with a fundamental alternative approach to learning, working, producing and consuming that prioritizes materiality and skillful human engagement which sharply contrasts with conventional norms and initiatives driving most organizations (Bell & Vacchani, 2019; Kroezen et al., 2021; Suddaby, Ganzin, & Minkus, 2017).

Indeed, despite craft-based ventures being common in certain parts of the world, the economic and social impact of craft in industrialized nations is reaching a critical threshold. For instance, in 2020,, an online retail platform of crafted goods, reported sales greater than US$11 billion. Impressively, Etsy’s sales revenue is estimated to still be less than 1% of the global market share of manufactured craft goods. Even more, whole sectors are now being reshaped through the resurgence of craft. Examples of industries being affected include beer brewing (Kroezen & Heugens, 2019), watch making (Oertel & Thommes, 2018; Raffaelli, 2019), fashion (Korica & Bazin, 2019), and agriculture (Weber, Heinze, & DeSoucey, 2008). And craft-based ventures are offering non-trivial solutions to the problems of environmental sustainability (Sikavica & Pozner, 2013) as well as opening alternative paths to entrepreneurship (Stinchfield, Nelson, & Wood, 2013; Kuhn & Galloway, 2015).

While craft is often intuitively associated with artisanal forms of manufacturing that appear inherently backward-looking, a closer look at the literature reveals that the concept has always had much broader applicability, such as in Mintzberg’s (1987) use of craft to capture a distinct approach to the making of strategy or in the example of the popular notion of “software craftsmanship” that laid the foundation for the “agile” movement (Beck et al., 2001; McBreen, 2002). Indeed, many contemporary craft-based initiatives are highly innovative and forward-looking (Browder, Aldrich & Bradley, 2019). For instance, the whole mechanical watch industry had to accelerate the rate of innovation in both organization and methods of production to survive the quartz crisis, which led to a surprising reconfiguration of the sector (Raffaelli, 2019). As of 2020, crafted mechanical watches comprise 86% of the Swiss watch industry’s export value.

However, compared to the impressive contributions of craft-based ventures to society, our knowledge of SE in craft-based ventures is very limited. As such, the purpose of this special issue is to extend our understanding of how craft-based ventures conduct SE. That is, how, if at all, they combine “both effectiveness and efficiency-oriented forms of newness” to explore tomorrow’s opportunities while exploiting today’s competitive advantages (Ireland & Webb, 2007: 52). And indeed, there are a number of unexplored or underexplored areas of research at the intersection of SE and craft-based economy that can illuminate our understanding of entrepreneurship and strategic management in craft-based ventures (Shepherd, Wennberg, Suddaby & Wiklund, 2019). For example, with the rapid advance of internet technologies and platform economies, craft-based ventures that had to traditionally rely exclusively on local consumers received sudden access to world markets. This has led to the increasing internationalization of craft-based ventures which now face unique opportunities and challenges as a result (e.g., Sasaki, Nummela, & Ravasi, 2021). These advances appeared to have played an important role in the survival of particular craft skills and associated ventures that had been on the brink of extinction. Another example is our lack of knowledge of the interplay between family dynamics and craft philosophy in craft-based ventures, which appears relevant as many craft-based products and services result from the lasting and dedicated work of generations of families that traditionally have substantially contributed to local economies (Hoskisson, Chirico, Zyung & Gambeta, 2017). Yet, apart from a few recent exceptions (e.g., Erdogan, Rondi, & De Massis, 2020; Sasaki, Ravasi, & Micelotta, 2019; Thurnell-Read, 2021; Ruef, 2020), there has been little cross-fertilization between craft-based research and the family firm literature (cf. Suddaby & Jaskiewicz, 2020). Other underexplored areas include, among others, the interplay between craft and tradition in the construction of authenticity, the interplay between craft and innovation in the context of the rise of artificial intelligence (cf. Murray, Rhymer, Sirmon, forthcoming), craft-approaches to engaging with various stakeholders (cf. Hitt et al., 2011; Murray, Kotha, & Fisher, forthcoming), the more general evolution of craft-based ventures, as well as the role of craft forms of strategic entrepreneurship in the informal/illegal economy.

Business Model Innovation Design: Deploying Strategic Entrepreneurship to Address Grand Challenges

Submission Deadline: April 3, 2023

To address grand challenges, strategic entrepreneurship initiatives such as business model innovation at the base of the pyramid or new social ventures with innovative business model designs may be deployed. Well-designed governmental policies complement and promote such purposeful entrepreneurship and innovation; however, they do not substitute for them. Given the relevance and timeliness of the topic, and the lack of research at the intersection of business model design, innovation, strategic entrepreneurship, governmental policies and grand challenges, we are launching a Special Issue entitled Business Model Innovation Design: Deploying Strategic Entrepreneurship to Address Grand Challenges.

We define new business models as systems of interconnected and potentially boundary-spanning transactions and activities centered on a focal organization and designed to serve markets or solve problems in ways that are either new to the world, new to a market, or simply new to the focal organization. Business model innovations entail holistic changes to how business is conducted, and often impact multiple organizational dimensions and stakeholders. Business model challenges relate to, for example, the transition to a circular economy, and more broadly grand challenges such as those presented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (UN Environment Management Group, n.d.), including eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities, increasing access to clean water and sanitation, and providing affordable clean energy.

The new Special Issue builds on the significant research on business models that has been performed over the past decade, with the objective of linking our improved conceptual and empirical understanding of the phenomenon with the important notion of grand challenges, the urgency of which has become increasingly apparent.