Sub-theme 27: Rediscovering Craft and Craftsmanship in Organizations

Innan Sasaki
Lancaster University Management School, United Kingdom
Davide Ravasi
UCL School of Management, United Kingdom
M. Tina Dacin
Queen's University, Smith School of Business, Canada

Call for Papers

The last decade has witnessed a revival of craft and craftsmanship across multiple sectors of the economy. Organizational scholars have used this phenomenon to increase our understanding of competitive dynamics (Carroll & Swaminathan, 2000; McKendrick & Hannan, 2013), meaning making (Weber et al., 2008), identity building (Lametz, Foster, Coraiola & Kroezen, 2015), authenticity (Beverland, 2005), knowledge (Cattani et al., 2013) and other topics. This sub-theme intends to offer an opportunity for scholars interested in craft and craftsmanship to engage in a conversation on this phenomenon not only a setting, but also an object of investigation and theorization in its own right.
Compared to other forms of production, craft typically involves some degree of manual labour – “a skill of making things well” (Sennett, 2008, p. 8), requires cultural capital to facilitate aesthetic appreciation and practical creativity in the blending of the arts with the practical or commercial (Romain, 2016; Kida & Takayama, 2010), and involves varying combinations of traditional and newly invented skills embedded in a local community (Blundel & Smith, 2013). This broad domain encompasses different forms of craft, including heritage craft, restored craft, contemporary craft, and semi-industrialized craft.
Despite the historical prevalence and modern-day revival of various forms of craft-based firms, organization and management scholars have surprisingly paid limited attention to examining and theorizing the distinctive features and processes that characterize these organizations (Ocejo, 2017; Suddaby et al., 2017).
Heritage craft firms display a surprising resilience to technological shifts and changes in consumer demands, but we know little about the strategies that have enabled their long-term survival, or how they manage to reconcile conflicting pressures for tradition vs. modernity or localness vs. globalness. On the one hand, craft-based firms are often associated with constraints of artisanal modes of production (Behagg, 1998) and deeply rooted tradition. On the other hand, intense performance of innovative design work also takes place in craft-based firms. Some craft-based firms successfully reinvent themselves by introducing “hybrid combinations that connect traditional artisanal knowledge to new forms of scientific and technological knowledge.” (Blundel & Smith, 2013, p. 68). In doing so, many craft firms today strike a balance between their respect for the past and acceptance of changing processes and practices.
Similarly, we know little about why and how the craft revival is occurring and what unique challenges craft firms face in the process of revival. Other fields have picked up on this phenomenon as an important social and cultural trend in and by itself (see, for example, the growing stream of research in economic geography, e.g. Fox-Miller, 2017). We believe this trend deserves more attention in management and organization studies because it suggests an alternative path to industry- and organizational-level change that challenges pre-existing understandings of change and evolution, as well as the implicit assumption that societal change always involves modernization.
Craft and craftsmanship may play an increasingly important economic and cultural role in present-day society, by generating jobs, producing a highly skilled and knowledgeable work force, fostering innovation, enhancing quality of life (LaMore et al., 2013; Ocejo, 2017), as well as contributing to preservation of cultural identity and heritage, and more sustainable approaches to production. As globalization erodes profits in developed countries, selling well-designed and well-crafted products at high margins might be the viable strategy for manufacturers in developed countries (Austin, 2008). As such, craft-based firms may contribute to a solution of some of the “grand challenges” faced by modern societies by being an important source of sustainable economic development and cultural diversity in developed countries.
We believe that organization scholars are very well positioned to contribute to a deeper understanding of this phenomenon. The goal of this sub-theme is to exchange dialogue and encourage research on craft organizations from multiple theoretical dimensions, generating opportunity for an exciting avenue of future research that can link many existing research streams. Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • How do craft-based firms balance tradition and innovation, and past and future oriented temporal pressures?

  • How are organizational identity and collective identity managed in craft firms?

  • How do craft-based firms recombine art and practice?

  • How is craft revived or reinvented in industries where it was previously (nearly) wiped out?

  • What is the role of the local community as well as wider institutions in the sustainability of craft work?

  • What is the role of emotions in craft firms?

  • How is meaningfulness created in craft firms?

  • How do craft firms co-create value and consumption experience with the consumers and other stakeholders?

  • How are multiple aspects of authenticity managed in craft firms?

  • What are the roles of craft-based firms in both developed (craft as art and luxury) and developing countries (craft work as a means for survival)?

We invite theoretical and empirical papers using qualitative or quantitative research methods that address these and related topics.

We acknowledge Jochem Kroezen for his contribution in putting together this EGOS-sub-theme. He is a Lecturer in International Business at Cambridge Judge Business School, United Kingdom. His current research focuses on the revival of craft-based production in mature industries and business collective action in response to social issues.



  • Austin, R. (2008): “High margins and the quest for aesthetic coherence.” Harvard Business Review, 86 (1), 18–19.
  • Beverland, M.B. (2005): “Crafting brand authenticity: The case of luxury wines.” Journal of Management Studies, 42 (5), 1003–1029.
  • Behagg, C. (1998): “Mass Production Without the Factory: Craft Producers, Guns and Small Firm Innovation, 1790–1815.” Business History, 40 (3), 1–15.
  • Blundel, R.K., & Smith, D.J. (2013): “Reinventing artisanal knowledge and practice: A critical review of innovation in a craft-based industry.” Prometheus, 31(1), 55–73.
  • Carroll, G.R., & Swaminathan, A. (2000): “Why the microbrewery movement? Organizational dynamics of resource partitioning in the US brewing industry.” American Journal of Sociology, 106 (3), 715–762.
  • Cattani, G., Dunbar, R.L., & Shapira, Z. (2013): “Value creation and knowledge loss: The case of Cremonese stringed instruments.” Organization Science, 24 (3), 813–830.
  • Fox Miller, C. (2017): “The contemporary geographies of craft-based manufacturing.” Geography Compass, 11 (4), e12311.
  • Kida, T, & Takayama, C. (2010): “‘Traditional Art Crafts (Dentō Kōgei)’ in Japan: From Reproductions to Original Works.” The Journal of Modern Craft, 3 (1), 19–35.
  • Lamertz, K., Foster, W.M., Coraiola, D.M., & Kroezen, J. (2016): “New identities from remnants of the past: an examination of the history of beer brewing in Ontario and the recent emergence of craft breweries.” Business History, 58 (5), 796–828.
  • LaMore, R., Root-Bernstein, R., Root-Bernstein, M., Schweitzer, J.H., Lawton, J.L., Roraback, E., Peruski, A., VanDyke, M., & Fernandez, L. (2013): “Arts and Crafts. Critical to economic innovation.” Economic Development Quarterly, 27 (3), 221–229.
  • McKendrick, D.G., & Hannan, M.T. (2013): “Oppositional identities and resource partitioning: Distillery ownership in Scotch whisky, 1826–2009.” Organization Science, 25 (4), 1272–1286.
  • Romain, J. (2016): “‘All Art is Part of the Same Constellation’: A Conversation on Craft and Artistic Practice with Heri Dono.” The Journal of Modern Craft, 9 (2), 183–191.
  • Ocejo, R.E. (2017): Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Sennett, R. (2008): The Craftsman. London: Penguin.
  • Suddaby, R., Ganzin, M., & Minkus, A. (2017): “Craft, magic and the re-enchantment of the world.” European Management Journal, 35 (3), 285–296.

Innan Sasaki is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Lancaster University, UK. Her research interests include tradition, history, and time in organization studies, organizational culture, and institutional theory. Innan studies craft firms and family firms.
Davide Ravasi is Professor and Director of the PhD Programme at UCL School of Management, London, UK, and Visiting Professor at the Aalto School of Business, Helsinki, Finland. His research examines interrelations between organizational identity, culture, and strategy in times of change, and how visuality and materiality influence cognition. Davide is interested more generally in cultural processes influencing how new objects and new practices come to be, and whether and how they are adopted by individuals and organizations.
M. Tina Dacin is the Stephen J.R. Smith Chair of Strategy and Organizational Behavior at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, Canada. She is also Director of the Smith School of Business Centre for Social Impact. She is a member of the University Senate at Queen’s University and Chair of the Principal's Innovation Fund Committee. Tina’s research interests include cultural heritage and traditions, social innovation/entrepreneurship, and strategic alliances.