Collaboration in the context of micro businesses: The case of Terracotta artisans in Impruneta (Italy)
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Business
Purpose: Collaboration among businesses, particularly in the current global economic downturn, can be a key strategy contributing to their survival. This study examines the case of micro firms involved in Terracotta art in Impruneta, Italy, and the extent to which collaboration occurs among the local artisans. In doing so, the study aims to consider collaboration theory in the context of micro firms. Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured, face-to-face and telephone interviews were conducted among the owners and managers of ten of Impruneta's 16 Terracotta firms. Findings: Whilst much of the academic literature highlights the multiple benefits of collaborative relationships, most participants acknowledge very limited engagement in collaboration. From the comments gathered, two distinct groups emerged, one composed of members of the local Terracotta association, who to some extent collaborate with one another, and the second, the non-members, who pursue their interests individually, or marginally collaborate outside Impruneta. Further, a number of barriers preventing collaboration were identified. Practical implications: The apparent weak collaborative relationships among respondents may have ramifications for the further development of their sector, for instance, restricting innovation and marketing know-how, both of which could help address such external pressures as competition. The involvement of third parties, such as the local town hall or chambers of commerce, was suggested by several participants to help increase collaboration. Originality/value: The study focuses on micro firms, a group that, despite its relevance for many countries' economies, has received limited attention from academic research, including with regard to collaboration and collaboration theory.