Cultural Entrepreneur


Cultural Entrepreneur

Cultural Entrepreneur


The cultural economy has gained tremendous interest in the last decades. The cultural economy which comprises of core cultural industries and core creative arts has shown resistant to the changes in the global economy (Baron, 2002). Cultural economy employs about 8% of the total workforce in which most of the workforce comprises of creative workers. Entrepreneurship in the cultural economy can make a change in the society’s economic trajectory. Cultural entrepreneurs are often considered as change agents with the knowledge and acceptance of cultural capital of the cultural economy’s workforce and innovate to develop prosperous communities (Barba-Sánchez & Atienza-Sahuquillo, 2012). They can be termed as resourceful visionaries who have the ability to organise cultural, financial as well as human capital in an aim of generating revenues and profits from cultural operations.

The term cultural entrepreneurship is very complex. It can be defined as the creation and the development of products and services that aims to satisfy our tastes and preferences whether in fashion, stories, games or opinions (Snyder et al., 2010). There are many views of who a cultural entrepreneur is. One perspective of a cultural entrepreneur is a person, who is visionary bestowed in developing a blossoming economic system; risk taker in generating profits and engages in the production and delivery of cultural commodities (Snyder et al., 2010). Cultural entrepreneurs are considered a source of enhanced livelihoods as they create cultural values for producers as well as the consumers of cultural commodities. This paper will expand the meaning and concept of cultural entrepreneur and will highlight the differences that are in existence between cultural entrepreneurs and normal entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship and Culture

Entrepreneurship entails the establishment of a new business entity or even acquiring an existing business from another person (Scott, 2012). There are many things that motivate people to be entrepreneurs. Profit is the main driving force for most entrepreneurs. The desire to take risk and being adventurers is another factor. Some people may be motivated to be entrepreneurs by negative factors. For instance, immigrants enter into entrepreneurship so as to avoid racial discrimination (Hagoort, Thomassen and Kooyman, 2012). Some group of people may have a cultural predisposition towards entrepreneurship. Culture is influenced by factors such as religion as religion tends to determine values and beliefs of a person. Culture is termed as shared values and beliefs that differentiate one group of people from the others. Culture has some influence on entrepreneurship (Snyder et al., 2010).

It is important to understand that culture in most industries is often a private domain. It is only in the developing countries that culture is seen in the public sector. Therefore, culture is said to be produced by private people who use their efforts creating it, promoting it as well as making a living out of it (Gemmell, Boland and Kolb, 2012). Such industry sectors are well defined but most operate at low margins and cultural organisations are often small and cash-strapped. As a result, culture is considered a hotbed of entrepreneurship (Klamer, 2011).

Mapping Cultural Entrepreneur

Cultural entrepreneurs do much more than just managing business activities. They discover activities and exploit their potential in terms of revenue and profit generation capabilities (Snyder et al., 2010). Cultural entrepreneurs have one characteristic that is not found in a normal entrepreneur, namely attentiveness to revenue generating investments that encompass new operations, new products and new raw material to name a few. The theory of cultural entrepreneurship is in the emerging stage. There are a number of perspectives that disserts what cultural entrepreneur is (Klamer, 2011).

Characteristics of Cultural Entrepreneurs

Cultural entrepreneurs are considered growth oriented who are closely linked to creative reputation. They often depend upon new media tools including Kickstarter and Twitter and use credible communications to shift attitudes and behaviours in order to change the world for the better (Sinclair & Bruce, 2009). Also, cultural entrepreneurs are agents of change who influence cultural innovation to establish a prospering economic system. They have the ability to generate revenues and profits from sustainable cultural business entities and develop cultural values for customers consuming cultural products and services (Martin and Witter, 2011). Some literatures have defined cultural entrepreneurs as a young creative people who foresee cultural ad creative opportunities and what is required to develop them.

Cultural entrepreneurs are said to undertake business operation in their cultural sector and have had a great impact on identity and has created mass consumption for a larger audience (Snyder et al., 2010). Cultural entrepreneurs build artistic careers with cultural products and services and generate profits from such businesses. According to Snyder et al., (2010), cultural entrepreneurs are risk takers and visionary leaders with the passion to create cultural businesses, develop cultural markets and industries and leverage cultural capital via creativity and innovation thereby enhancing cultural values and norms (Martin and Witter, 2011). They often remain vision driven and market focussed driven by the need to create financial wealth as well as cultural value.

In addition, one important feature of cultural entrepreneurs is the fact that they are driven towards the awareness of cultural values, their focus is on the cultural content and art. Barba-Sánchez & Atienza-Sahuquillo (2012) suggests that cultural entrepreneurs are leaders who have growth strategies strongly linked to their identity and creative reputation. The goals of these people is to build artistic careers as they develop cultural products and services while taking part in paid work in their cultural sector (Baron, 2002). However, cultural entrepreneurs can be non-profit teams of individuals who offer cultural products and services with high value.

What Differentiates Cultural Entrepreneur from Normal Entrepreneur

The fundamental objective of cultural entrepreneur is to design a cultural value for individuals who produce or consume cultural goods and services (Martin and Witter, 2011). This feature differentiates cultural entrepreneurs from normal entrepreneurs. As mentioned earlier, they are involved in activities that lead to shift in attitudes, behaviour and traditions and influence shift in perceptions of identity as well as aesthetics (Snyder et al., 2010). Therefore, cultural value that results is far from that of utility value that is created by normal entrepreneurs as it is most at times value for the “common good”. In cultural entrepreneurs, cultural values are intrinsic and are expresses and produced through emotional utterances and persuasions (Klamer, 2011). Cultural entrepreneurs are considered to be resourceful as they recognize cultural capital in the process of value creation.

For cultural entrepreneurs, economics is a framework of leveraging cultural value. As a result, some are more market oriented than others (Snyder et al., 2010). Financial wealth creation for some entrepreneurs may be an important part in the creation of cultural value while others may decide to search for government funding in order to put up with cultural value creation. For others cultural entrepreneurs, cultural entrepreneurial endeavours may lie anywhere between charitable and market based financing (Sinclair & Bruce, 2009). Another factor that differentiate cultural entrepreneur from normal entrepreneur is the fact that they are considered mission driven, but their focus lies on both financial and cultural wealth. To this effect, they tend to be sensitive to activities that create cultural value. Normal entrepreneurs focus more on financial wealth (Snyder et al., 2010).

Cultural entrepreneurs are focused on revenue arbitrage but at the same time integrate economic, social and cultural values in their cultural enterprises (Gemmell, Boland and Kolb, 2012). These entrepreneurs have the knowledge of and are sensitive towards the arts, creative as well as culture activities coupled with understanding of potential public and marketing methods (Snyder et al., 2010). Just like normal entrepreneurs, cultural entrepreneurs are willing to take risks and face the ambidextrous situations while creating and developing their business ideas. They too create revenue potentialities and often following their vision and mission of their business entities.

As seen earlier, there are many similarities between normal entrepreneurs and cultural entrepreneurs. There is one crucial difference between the two. Since cultural products and services often rely heavily on the tastes and preferences of consumers, there are huge possibilities for falling (Snyder et al., 2010). Cultural entrepreneurs do not have an established model to predict success and thus, the difference between a success and a failure is very large indeed. This makes it hard to develop a suitable NPV/ROI calculation (Mukherjee, 2013). As a result of this, the institutional investors are scared, not because the probability of failure is high, but because they do not have the ability to predict and thus they do not have control. In many ways, cultural entrepreneurs are similar to normal entrepreneurs. They are more hard-core entrepreneurs than entrepreneurs involved in sectors with the easy money flow.

In cultural entrepreneurship, one need to get a team together, get the capital, produce a product or service, understand the customers and find a market to sell the commodities (Mukherjee, 2013). At the end, one would probably not become a billionaire but would make profits and reach a substantial amount of audience. There is one advantage of cultural entrepreneurship in comparison with normal entrepreneurship (Mukherjee, 2013). Unlike other entrepreneurs, cultural entrepreneurs are considered to having the concept of a fan base. A cultural entrepreneur who has succeeded once has high chances of future success as it increases exponentially.

The State of Cultural Entrepreneurship around the World

Cultural industries around the world are said to making less money compared to other industries. Cultural entrepreneurship has grown exponentially in countries like India. Bollywood’s cultural industry has a turnover of less than Rs 3000 crore which is low compared to revenues in other industries (Mukherjee, 2013). Nevertheless, cultural entrepreneurship plays an inconsistent role in creating the identity of a nation. Apart from few large organisations, most cultural entrepreneurship is carried out by small entrepreneurs. Most American music starts with small bands and most Japan’s anime starts with small publishers finding an audience (Mukherjee, 2013).

India is not gravely placed when it comes to cultural products and services as there is a prerequisite industry that produces big money which is the movie industry (Mukherjee, 2013). Smaller and less profitable industries in India can link to the movie industry in order to grow such industry include books industry. In some way, the movie industry in India and Pakistan throttles smaller industries (Martin and Witter, 2011). Across the world, cultural entrepreneurs combine artistic abilities with business activities and attract customers without compromising their artistic integrity. They are often considered an enterprising artists or organisation administering a work of art (Klamer, 2011).

Factors Influencing Cultural Entrepreneurial

With regard to the characteristics and qualities of a cultural entrepreneur, cultural self-identity influences a person’s intention to be a cultural entrepreneur (Carsrud and Brannback, 2011). According to identity theory, the outset of identity is based in the self in whom a person is an occupant of a specific role. For instance, artists who find meaning in using their abilities to make art view “this” artist as the key to who they are. Many people have different identities that may originate from their culture. Such identities are called cultural self-identities (Carsrud and Brannback, 2011). Another factor that influences a person to be a cultural entrepreneur is cognitive ambidexterity. The entrepreneurial environment is faced with uncertainty, novelty as well as ambiguity. Flexibility is an essential quality of an effective entrepreneur. Cognitive flexibility is the awareness that there are always options and alternatives, self-efficacy that one is able to be flexible and the willingness to adapt to different situations (Carsrud and Brannback, 2011).

Cultural entrepreneurs exhibit cognitive flexibility when their intentions are formed. Cognitive flexibility enables an entrepreneur try out new ideas while transforming from social worker to trying out with entrepreneurship (Aquino et al., 2009). The theory of goal pursuit argues that a person’s goals and objectives are hierarchical with the substantial goals found at the top of the hierarchy and middle developmental goals that results to top level goals (Aquino et al., 2009). All behaviours results from goals set by a process of reasoning. This means that a person’s past behaviours may have an influence on the future behaviours. A person’s inspiration to be a cultural entrepreneur is considered an end-state goal with intermediate goals including business training and revenue potentiality to name a few. This means that past trying may influence a person to seek cultural entrepreneurship (Aquino et al., 2009).

Factors Leading to the Growth of Cultural Entrepreneurs

Today, many cultural entrepreneurs are not getting the assistance they deserve which may lead to the decline in the cultural industry (Mukherjee, 2013). In order for the cultural industry to grow, the government should not interfere with the cultural entrepreneurship. What they should do is offer the safety that every individual deserves. No one should threaten a cultural entrepreneur and drive him out of a country (Mukherjee, 2013). Industry recognition is also important for cultural entrepreneurs since it is rare for banks to offer financial assistance to these individual creators. This will enable more and more cultural enterprises to open up. In addition, private investors should invest more in cultural enterprises. They are over-investing in other industries ignoring the vast consumption of cultural products and services (Mukherjee, 2013).


To sum up, cultural economy has gained interests in the last decades. Entrepreneurship in the cultural economy can make a difference in the economic trajectory. Cultural entrepreneurs can be defined as the resourceful visionaries who have the ability to organise cultural, financial as well as human capital in an aim of generating revenues and profits from cultural operations. Cultural entrepreneurs are considered growth oriented who are closely linked to creative reputation. They are agents of change who influence cultural innovation and have the ability to generate revenues and profits from sustainable cultural business entities. Cultural entrepreneurs are said to undertake business operation in their cultural sector and have had a great impact on identity. They build artistic careers with cultural products and services. These characteristics make them different from normal entrepreneurs.


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