Given limited research about how artisans become integrated into tourism, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the emergence of artisan entrepreneur–mediators who link artisans to tourism in rural areas and small cities in Portugal. Using social embeddedness as a conceptual framework, this paper views artisan entrepreneur–mediators as existing within an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The paper investigates their role within this ecosystem and how social networks influence the artisan entrepreneur–mediators’ roles in connecting artisans to creative tourism.
The paper is based on new (2017 and 2018) empirical evidence developed through two rounds of semi-structured interviews of five artisan entrepreneur–mediators.
This paper finds that artisan entrepreneur–mediators in rural areas or small cities take on multiple roles as networking agents who organize and offer creative tourism experiences, providing the missing link between artisans and tourists. An analysis of the nuances of the operations of these artisan entrepreneur–mediators suggests that high levels of social embeddedness within local rural communities are important in order for these neo-rural entrepreneurs to attain their goals.
Originality lies in the identification of a gap in artisan entrepreneurship literature in a rural context. It is the first time that a critical analysis of artisan entrepreneur–mediators who facilitate the link between artisans and tourism is carried out in terms of social embeddedness, their roles and connections to creative tourism, and types of community engagement.
The research for this is article was conducted within the framework of a research project on creative tourism in small cities and rural areas in Portugal, entitled CREATOUR: “Creative Tourism Destination Development in Small Cities and Rural Areas” (Project No. 016437), supported by the Joint Activities Program of Portugal 2020, by Compete 2020, POR Lisboa, POR Algarve, and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT). The authors would like to thank DINÂMIA’CET-IUL, anonymous reviewers and the individuals involved in the interviews for their time and valuable insights.
Bakas, F.E., Duxbury, N. and Vinagre de Castro, T. (2019), "Creative tourism: catalysing artisan entrepreneur networks in rural Portugal", International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 731-752. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEBR-03-2018-0177
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