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The paradox of being a food artisan entrepreneur: responding to conflicting institutional logics

Jessica Lindbergh (Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Birgitta Schwartz (Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 1 January 2021

Issue publication date: 17 March 2021




The aim of this study is to understand how artisanal food entrepreneurs acting as businesses, which are grounded in the logic of profit and growth, navigate the anti-growth constraints of artisanal logic. The study answers the research question of, how and when do the artisanal entrepreneurs respond to tensions between the small-scale craftsmanship logic and the business growth logic?


This study consists of two cases of artisanal food entrepreneurs situated in rural regions of Sweden. The empirical material is collected through interviews, observations and secondary sources. The analysis consists of two steps: a narrative analysis and a categorization of institutional logics using Pache and Santos (2013) framework.


Our findings show that the artisanal food entrepreneurs used several types of response to the tensions between the two institutional logics. As businesses grew, business growth logic increasingly penetrated the companies' operations. They responded by combining and blending the two logics and avoided growing too large themselves by collaborating with suppliers and local farmers. In addition, other activities needed to be compartmentalized and hidden since these activities could threaten their business images and their own criteria for small-scale food artisans.


Much work on how different institutional logics affect businesses have been on a structural level. This study answers the call on that more research is needed on an individual level by studying how individuals interpret logics and use them in their business activities.



The names of authors appear in alphabetical order and have contributed equally. The authors wish to thank colleagues of Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University and especially Professor Jan Löwstedt for comments on early drafts. Finally, we wish to acknowledge Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship for providing a supporting environment.


Lindbergh, J. and Schwartz, B. (2021), "The paradox of being a food artisan entrepreneur: responding to conflicting institutional logics", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 149-166.



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