3 October 2019

Research pick: The business of opera - "Sing it out loud! The entrepreneurship of SME opera enterprises in Scandinavia"

A case study of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the world of Scandinavian opera is discussed in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. Staffan Albinsson of the Department of Economy and Society at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden contributes new knowledge on the entrepreneurial facets of opera production based on an in-depth study of a dozen SMEs.

The research was based on structured questioning of initiators, artistic directors and general managers, the entrepreneurs involved in the operatic SMEs. Albinsson’s analysis of the survey results shows that opera entrepreneurs follow the normal entrepreneurial processes in their endeavours. However, the work also shows that along the way there is huge variation in the choices made which influence the outcome in terms of mainly regarding the choice of repertoire and its subsequent staging. Albinsson reports.

Intriguingly, while some of those involved in operatic SMEs had had some formal tuition in entrepreneurship or project management, for the most part, the skills necessary to run such an SME were simply acquired on the job, through trial-and-error experience. He offers seven main conclusions from the study
  1. Most of the entrepreneurs described both business- and self-centred ‘windows of opportunity’ for the initiation of their enterprises
  2. All of them were mission- or purpose-driven
  3. Objectives were commonly described as bringing opera to the people or in unusual and/or intimate settings
  4. The entrepreneurs had divergent approaches to achieving their goals
  5. When aspiration and result differed, the entrepreneurs saw “artistic innovation” as being important through the process regardless
  6. The enterprises were all not-for-profit ventures, but economic success and growth allowed them all to put on even more ambitious and attractive performances
  7. The opera entrepreneurs regardless of setting generally followed the patterns of conventional entrepreneurial business.
Albinsson, S. (2019) ‘Sing it out loud! The entrepreneurship of SME opera enterprises in Scandinavia’, Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp.449–471.

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