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Towards a model of entrepreneurial behaviour: an evaluation of the history of Fabergé from 1842 to 2017

John L. Thompson (Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
John Day (Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 5 July 2022

Issue publication date: 16 January 2023




This paper aims to discuss how over the past 180 years, a succession of largely unrelated entrepreneurs of differing capabilities have either created or recognised and exploited opportunities offered by this enduring company, their heritage and brand.


Primary data was provided from discussions with Fabergé experts and the new owners of the brand. Extensive secondary data was also used and analysed.


The original Fabergé creations numbered some 200,000, but their creator is remembered best for 65 unique Imperial (and other) Eggs. Many pieces have survived, although the business disappeared in 1917. Since then, dealers and collectors have intervened symbiotically to protect the brand equity – supported by serendipitous popular cultural interventions – although a series of parallel entrepreneurial but parasitic interventions meant the brand and the original products became separated. This changed in 2007 with new owners acquiring the brand and resurrecting high-end jewellery production with a new business model. Their contemporary journey is both informed and shaped by Fabergé’s tumultuous past.

Research limitations/implications

Reinforces that while a universal theory of entrepreneurship eludes us that these three key elements – opportunity, uncertainty and resources – help explain the related behaviour of a series of different intervening entrepreneurs. This framework is offered for wider use and testing.

Practical implications

Advances the understanding of how entrepreneurs spot and enact opportunity.


Develops a model embracing parasitic and symbiotic interventions in the history of a brand, and a conceptual entrepreneurial model capturing three key elements that explain entrepreneurial behaviour. These being: opportunity seeking and exploitation, addressing uncertainty and deploying appropriate resources.



The authors wish to acknowledge the support of individuals associated with the new owners of Fabergé since 2007. In particular, Authors thank John Andrew, member of the Heritage Council, together with Sean Gilbertson and Sarah Fabergé.


Thompson, J.L. and Day, J. (2023), "Towards a model of entrepreneurial behaviour: an evaluation of the history of Fabergé from 1842 to 2017", Journal of Management History, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 134-155.



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