The hidden entrepreneur in festival research : a literature review

Wilson, Juliette and Arshed, Norin and Shaw, Eleanor (2013) The hidden entrepreneur in festival research : a literature review. In: 36th Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference 2013, 2013-11-11 - 2013-11-13.

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Objectives: The purpose of this paper is to analyse existing research on festivals and to identify research gaps relevant to small business research. To date, extant research on festivals has not considered the role of entrepreneurs in the initiation and success of festivals. However it is likely that entrepreneurs and others within local communities with whom they partner, are important driving forces in the organisation and management of festivals. This paper presents a systematic review of this literature to evidence our suggestion that there are opportunities to research the role and impact of entrepreneurs and the networks in which they are embedded in the initiation and running of local, community-based festivals. The paper also identifies theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches relevant to such future studies. Prior Work: Festivals play a significant role in the lives of many communities providing important activities and spending outlets for locals and visitors and enhancing the image of local communities (Getz 1993). Festivals are highly dependent on the driving forces of key individuals within festival networks and also on a wider network of key stakeholders who support their emergence and occurrence, typically on an annual basis (Getz 1993; Gursoy et al, 2004). Research indicates that while entrepreneurs are instrumental to the establishment of such festivals, the role of these individuals, their networks and the forms of capital they leverage to make festivals happen have received scant attention (Getz et al 2010). As a consequence, while much is known about the outcomes of festivals, little is understood about where the ideas for festivals originate, which individuals are involved, how these people interact and collaborate, what resources are required and, over time, how the network of relationships needed to make festivals happen evolves to support their annual occurrence. Approach: A systematic review of the research literature on festivals spanning 30 years is used to map “areas of uncertainty, and (to) identify where little or no relevant research has been done, but where new studies are needed” (Petticrew and Roberts, 2006: 2). Results: This systematic review reveals that extant research has concentrated on several key themes: the outcomes and successes of festivals and also the motivations of festival goers (Gursoy et al 2004; Rollins and Delamere 2007). Little attention has been afforded to the initiation of festivals, those individuals and networks which drive their establishment and regular occurrence or to either the evolution of festivals or the interplay between this and the evolution of the networks in which festivals are locally embedded (Getz et al 2010). Despite parallels between community-based and social entrepreneurship, festival entrepreneurs and festival networks have, to date, received scant attention from both research focused on festivals, and the broader entrepreneurship literature. Implications: The paper identifies research gaps and areas for further studies on festivals including the need for the origin of festivals to be more comprehensively investigated and the social, economic and cultural contexts in which festivals are situated to be considered.