Archive for the ‘ entrepreneurship ’ Category

What can the field of entrepreneurship learn from studying cultural entrepreneurship?

i-can-t-keep-calm-because-i-m-an-artist

This is one of the questions being asked in a special issue of entitled Cultural Entrepreneurship for the International Journal of Entrepreneurship Venturing.

I am preparing an article for this special issue in which I shall focus on the following themes:

o    How does research on artistic identities and creative work practices inform our knowledge on cultural entrepreneurship?

o    How are cultural entrepreneurs enabled (or hindered) by their professional self-concept and routine work practices?

I aim to explore these themes by revealing insights into the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurship; the worker’s identities and personal agency within a specific context. Continue reading

Advertisements

Cultural Entrepreneurship: New Perspectives for Entrepreneurship Studies

From the perspective of entrepreneurship studies, my research reflects a growing appeal for non-conventional aspects of entrepreneurship to be studied as a means of developing a closer understanding or even ‘surprising’ the academic field of entrepreneurship (Hjorth and Steyaert, 2006, p. 3). A critical perspective on current depictions of entrepreneurship can act as a catalyst for seeking new narratives. Hjorth and Steyaert’s book includes a study of indigenous people from deprived communities who change their socio-economic circumstances by rebuilding their community through entrepreneurial practice, thereby demonstrating their ability to control their future and challenge dominant views of their socio-cultural identity (Anderson et al., 2006, p.56). Continue reading

The Entrepreneur as Jester.

imagesCACYS744In popular discourse, the identity of the entrepreneur is described as an individual’s life story, achieving entrepreneurial success in the face of adversity, thus creating a strong association with the innate attributes of the entrepreneur, acting as an autonomous ‘free agent’, and often against all the odds. For instance, Alan Sugar’s profile is that of someone who from humble beginnings has become a highly successful entrepreneur. This narrative is depicted by Warren and Anderson in their study of the ‘aesthetic performance of an entrepreneurial identity’ which illustrates the personality of Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of the airline Ryanair (2009). For the authors, O’Leary’s entrepreneurial character is playful in his interactions with the media; he adopts a ‘jester-like pose, where the freedom of the clown’s cap allots a broad license to lambast both figures of authority influential in setting governance structures and also, the greyed ranks of august established competitors’ (ibid, p. 149). Warren and Anderson expose O’Leary’s ability to use entrepreneurial rhetoric as a means of challenging the structures which stand in his way, as a business man (ibid). Here, the idea of the entrepreneur is similar to that of the maverick, the disruptive individual who acts differently from the establishment. According to Warren and Anderson, O’Leary is empowered by performing this role and employs the character of the entrepreneur to meet his business needs in a competitive marketplace.

Continue reading

Cultural Entrepreneurship: the role of personal agency in the cultural worker’s experience of entrepreneurship

In this blog I outline the context for my study of the role of personal agency in the cultural worker’s experience of entrepreneurship. The research draws on the academic disciplines of cultural studies, cultural policy studies and entrepreneurship studies as a context for empirical research of the lived experience of entrepreneurship in cultural work. In exploring the tensions between a celebration of entrepreneurial modes of work and critiques of entrepreneurship as a characteristic of a neo-liberal agenda, I reveal a more nuanced experience through individual narratives set within the context of a cultural industries milieu.

Context

Oakley questions the possibility of entrepreneurial work being ‘good work’ in her chapter ‘Good Work? Rethinking Cultural Entrepreneurship’ stating that there is a ‘disconnect between the discourse of cultural entrepreneurship and the reality of it’ (Oakley, 2013). The thrust of Oakley’s argument is that the policy rhetoric encouraging entrepreneurship needs to take note of the challenges of self-employment and the precarious nature of work in the cultural sector. A better understanding of different practices and individual experiences needs to inform the ‘rethinking of cultural entrepreneurship’. This ‘disconnect’ is the context for this study which seeks to reveal the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurship in the context of Birmingham’s (UK) cultural milieu.

My investigation draws on academic disciplines such as entrepreneurship studies and cultural studies which, at first glance, have very little in common. One is driven by a tradition of critical thinking (cultural studies), shaped predominantly by Marxist theories, while the other tends to prioritise practical implications for policy makers and practitioners. However, while on the surface there is little parity, I have found common ground on several points. Firstly, as Oakley and others (See Banks,  Hesmondhalgh, Hjorth and Steyaert) have suggested there is a call for more empirical studies capturing the lived experience of cultural entrepreneurship. Secondly, there is emerging literature which seeks to re-invent entrepreneurship, including being ‘enterprising’ for counter cultural activities or for ‘good’ work (morally, ethically and practically) within a social context.

The diversity of experience and the extent to which it represents meaningful work for cultural entrepreneurs is problematized by Hesmondhalgh and Baker in their investigation of good and bad work (2011). This study compliments that research but with an emphasis on the discourse of entrepreneurship as a means of exploring cultural work. Like Hesmondhalgh and Baker, I do not assume that the individuals I interview are ‘entranced’ (p.47, 2011) by cultural entrepreneurship; I argue that they are active agents within a Bourdieusian field. The accounts I have collected for this study are taken seriously, as the lived experiences of cultural entrepreneurs within constantly changing, complex social circumstances and structures (Bourdieu, 1993).

I explore this by engaging with critical debates and by investigating the contextualised experience of individual cultural entrepreneurs. Themes such as self-management, the myth of the entrepreneur and the relevance of place will be explored as a means of investigating the role of personal agency and in order to advance our understanding of cultural entrepreneurship. The process seeks to re-imagine the cultural entrepreneur by recognising the role of reflexivity and the possibilities for agentic practice. The distinctiveness of the approach aims to reveal highly personal experiences and subjective positions set within the context of a relatively small cultural industries community in Birmingham; a community in which I have been immersed for a number of years prior to this study. I draw on my knowledge of people, networks and of local policies by exploiting my position as part of Birmingham’s cultural industries community.

This work will further enhance current academics debates specifically in two disciplines: firstly scholarly work engaged with advancing the European tradition of entrepreneurship studies which seeks to explore entrepreneurship from broader perspectives and challenge dominant notions of the entrepreneur. Secondly it will inform scholarship in cultural policy and cultural studies by further developing critical perspectives through empirical research.

Applying ‘fields’ and ‘habitus’ to Researching Cultural Entrepreneurs

As part of my research of Birmingham based cultural entrepreneurs, I aim to highlight the context in which they operate by outlining some key policies and selecting a few important developments and projects. I identify that cultural entrepreneurs are not working in a vacuum but that the language of enterprise, an emphasis on economic development and the role of the cultural industries as part of the city is an important factor in the space of production.

Bourdieu’s notion of a ‘fields of production’ is revealed through the policies, powerful agencies and is linked to ‘habitus’ represented by the networks of individual cultural entrepreneurs who play a role in influencing the ‘field’ by creating their own projects, blogs and events. There is a sense that spaces associated with the cultural industries, either through individuals or through policy making, have much in common. But which comes first, the strategy or the activities of cultural entrepreneurs? Continue reading

There is Creativity in the Method

Image

I am working on my methodology chapter. These are some of the questions I am asking just to get started: How is the approach linked to the purpose of the research? Why is it specifically relevant to approach the research in this way? How can I justify the methodology? What are the limitations and issues of quality or robustness?

I start by introducing the methodology chapter:

This chapter outlines the research approach taken in this thesis. The methodological choices have informed the data collection and interpretion, enabling the study to address the research question: ‘cultural entrepreneurship: what role does personal agency play in the cultural worker’s experience of entrepreneurship?’. The chapter contributed to an exploration of appropriate methodologies for capturing the subjective experience of entrepreneurial modes of work by individual cultural workers. This will further enhance current academics debates specifically in two disciplines: firstly by scholars engaged with Advancing European Tradition of Entrepreneurship Studies which seeks to explore entrepreneurship from broader perspectives and challenge dominant notions of the entrepreneur. Secondly it will inform cultural policy and cultural studies by further developing critical perspectives through empirical research.

In this chapter, I aim to include both practical elements such as how I collected the data and the process for designing the analysis, as well as the theoretical context for this approach. I start with inspiration from feminist research in entrepreneurship. But that’s my next blog post…

Cultural Entrepreneurship Poster

My draft poster for the Advancing European Traditions of Entrepreneurship Studies conference taking place in Leeds in on 18 and 19th March. This is what the conference is about:

This two-day workshop builds on the concept of a ‘European’ School of entrepreneurship research, by bringing together leading scholars who represent this movement through research which are distinct from the dominant behaviourist/positivist approaches that increasingly typify leading scholarly journals. The aim of the workshop is to provide a creative meeting space to consider experimental and novel approacheswhich advance theoretical understanding of the domain of entrepreneurship andits real-life practices, contexts and impacts. Drawing on multi-disciplinary perspectives, opportunities may thereby be created to expose conceptual anomalies, while developing impactful debates in dialogue with the mainstream of entrepreneurship science.