A configurational perspective on success in small-sized creative organizations

Date: 15 February 2017

Venue: University of Antwerp - Stadscampus - Hof van Liere - F. de Tassiszaal, Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 3:30 PM

PhD candidate: Sofie Jacobs

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Annick Schramme

Co-principal investigator: Prof. dr. Bart Cambré

Short description: PhD defence Sofie Jacobs - Faculty of Applied Economics


The creative industries are recognized worldwide as a key driver for contemporary economic and societal growth. However, they have been largely neglected in strategy research. They are made up of predominantly small-sized organizations with a high level of self-employment. This calls for a better understanding of what occurs at the micro-level, especially looking into particular variables that influence the performance of creative organizations. In my doctoral dissertation I adopt a configurational approach to explore different pathways to success in small-sized creative organizations, whereby success is seen as business growth and as perceived success. The use of the set-theoretic method Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) is perfectly suited to analyze relationships between the multiple elements of these pathways. During a period of three years I gathered all data by in-depth interviewing 40 independent fashion and furniture designers and a web survey among 54 designers.

The diverse elements of the pathways to success are explored throughout three empirical studies, which build on each other. In the first study, the pathway to high perceived success is explored through the following elements: a balance between exploration and exploitation activities, following a dominant fashion business logic and the organizational life cycle. The second study also explores high perceived success, but adds pathways to business growth to it. More in-depth, this study analyzes the combinatorial effects of personal values, job rate, product focus and firm age. The third study combines the most important elements of the previous studies. This study analyzes both business growth and perceived success through pathways of exploration, exploitation, entrepreneurial orientation and job rate.

This dissertation generates four main contributions. First, the different studies employ a focus on micro-enterprises, which are often neglected in other empirical studies. Second, this dissertation looks into two different measures of performance – growth and high perceived success – which is not common in creative industries research, and answers the call to research success as a multi-dimensional issue. Third, by applying the QCA method this dissertation is able to provide empirical evidence on the complex interrelations between the different strategy conditions and how they jointly affect the business growth and perceived success of small-sized fashion and furniture designers. This approach is a meaningful addition to the well-known approaches of qualitative studies and econometric modelling in creative industries research and a first step to a configurational theory of success in small-sized creative organizations. In addition, this research stems from practice and has the aim to provide designers and policy-makers with a more tangible understanding of pathways for success in the furniture and fashion design industry

Link: https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/rg/management/