Diversifying into technical clothing manufacture as entrepreneurial learning: A situated learning theory perspective
Journal article, 2014
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate analytically how entrepreneurial action as learning relating to diversifying into technical clothing – i.e. a high value manufacturing sector – can take place. This is particularly relevant to recent discussion and debate in academic and policy-making circles concerning the survival of the clothing manufacture industry in developed industrialised countries. Using situated learning theory (SLT) as the major analytical lens, this case study examines an episode of entrepreneurial action relating to diversification into a high-value manufacturing sector. It is considered on instrumentality grounds, revealing wider tendencies in the management of knowledge and capabilities requisite for effective entrepreneurial action of this kind. Boundary events, brokers, boundary objects, membership structures and inclusive participation that addresses power asymmetries are found to be crucial organisational design elements, enabling the development of inter- and intracommunal capacities. These together constitute a dynamic learning capability, which underpins entrepreneurial action, such as diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors.Future research should take a multiple-case study approach involving firms of different ages, in different development stages, operating in contrasting sectors and should focus on the organisational design elements advanced in this paper and their interplay. It is argued that optimising the function of these organisational design elements is pivotal in the development of the technological knowledge and capabilities required for effective diversification into technical clothing in particular and high-value manufacturing more generally. Through a refinement of SLT in the context of entrepreneurial action, the paper contributes to an advancement of a substantive theory of managing technological knowledge and capabilities for effective diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors.
Communities of practice
Technological knowledge management