How a startup creates innovation

-Digital-craft: how a startup creates innovation by combining traditional craft skills and technological capabilities-



This article studies organizational innovation as result of the combination of different skills, mindsets, competencies, perspectives and experiences. The purpose of this article is: is. to identify an empirical case where different knowledge-domains interact, enabling the emergence of organizational innovation. Our specific research focus is the overlapping area between traditional artisanal work and innovative technological solutions; ii. to analyze the genesis, evolution and characteristics of this empirical case, underlying both its advantages and flaws; iii. to provide insights about how handicraft and digital technologies -often characterized by extremely different mind-sets, tools and strategies- could be linked for mutual and reciprocal benefit.

Design/Methodology/Approach – We chose to follow a qualitative case study methodology to “identify how a complex set of circumstances come together to produce a particular manifestation” (Hancock, et al. 1998 p.7). Thus, we attempted to capture as many variables as possible through unstructured interviews with the company founders and through documents and reports we were able to collect from the organization itself. The case study methodology, with its inductive approach, has also been chosen to support the development of concepts and theoretical models useful to understand the social dynamics emerging between two different cognitive domains (handicraft and digital technologies).

Originality/Value – The field of innovation in organizations is broad and well studied. Building on existing literature, we focus on a very narrow and relatively under-investigated research area: the possibility to combine traditional craft skills with modern digital technologies to reach the competitive advantage. The attempt is to define and discuss concepts and variables that, emerging from the case study, could contribute to shape a theoretical model to be fully developed and tested through future research.

Practical Implications – Besides the theoretical contribution, the paper attempts to identify and to discuss a set of insights potentially useful for those organizations, operating in the handicraft or in the digital technology sector, that are looking for opportunities to expand their strategic options. The structured analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of combining a traditional handicraft organization with a technological one could represent the opportunity to learn from existing empirical evidences without mechanically follow the same patterns.


Bolici F., Colella N. A. (2016). “Digital-craft: how a startup creates innovation by combining traditional craft skills and technological capabilities”. International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics.