Entrepreneurial capital : exploring the perspectives of craft entrepreneurs

Pret, Tobias and Shaw, Eleanor (2013) Entrepreneurial capital : exploring the perspectives of craft entrepreneurs. In: ISBE Conference Proceedings. Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE). ISBN 978-1-900862-26-4

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Abstract

This paper explores the importance of entrepreneurial capital for small firms in the craft industries. Specifically, it adopts Bourdieu’s (1986) perspective on capital and investigates the interplay between different forms of capital and also between entrepreneurial capital and experiences of entrepreneurship. This study draws on the emerging body of research on entrepreneurial capital (Erikson, 2002; Firkin, 2003), which highlights the crucial role that non - financial resources play in facilitating firms’ successes (Bhagavatula et al., 2010; Davidsson and Honig, 2003). To date, little attention has been paid to the convertible, multifaceted nature of entrepreneurial capital (Shaw et al., 2008). This paper seeks to address this research gap by exploring the perspectives of craft entrepreneurs. Craft firms are especially relevant to this study as they are regarded as under - researched (Tregear, 2003) and restrained by limited financial resources (Burns et al., 2012). This paper adopts a multiple - case study approach and analyses craft firms in two rural areas (south - west Scotland and north - east England). In answer to the call for more methodological and paradigmatic diversity (Grant and Perren, 2002; Neergaard and Ulhøi, 2007), we chose to embrace an interpretivist perspective and conduct a phenomenological inquiry (Cope, 2005). Thus, the theoretical propositions we develop are grounded in the lived experiences of the participating entrepreneurs. Our study highlights the importance of social, cultural/human and symbolic capital to small firm owners and illustrates the fundamental role of these non - financial resources in supplementing craft entrepreneurs' economic capital. Our findings also reveal that the entrepreneurial capital possessed by and available to entrepreneurs is multifaceted and convertible. Furthermore, our empirical evidence shows that craft entrepreneurs are willing to share their capital in order to help one another and advance the industry as a whole. Our findings suggest that small firm owners will benefit from recognising the convertible nature of their entrepreneurial capital. Additionally, we propose that entrepreneurs who seek to produce expensive and specialised craft items acquire high levels of social, cultural and symbolic capital to facilitate their sales. Our findings will be of interest to educators and policymakers as they will be able to support entrepreneurs in expanding their entrepreneurial capital. This paper draws on rich empirical evidence to contribute to the academic debate on entrepreneurial capital. It also adds to the limited amount of business research conducted on firms in craft industries. Our study will be of practical value to small firm owners in general and craftspeople in particular as they will be able to learn from the advice derived from the lived experiences of the participants in this study.