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Communities of knowledge: entrepreneurship, innovation and networks in the British outdoor trade 1960-1990

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2004
<mark>Journal</mark>Business History
Issue number4
Number of pages32
Pages (from-to)606-637
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article focuses on the innovation process in an important leisure-based industry in Great Britain since 1960. It explores the peculiar juxtaposition of social, economic, technological, and sporting forces, which provided the springboard for a number of British outdoor companies, including Karrimor, Berghaus and Mountain Equipment, to become leading international brands. More particularly, it highlights the way innovations were developed in relatively small entrepreneurial firms. The prime focus is on the way in which networking activity underpinned innovation and, by implication, the competitive advantage of firms. To achieve this, it also traces the bridges within the supply chain and, by exploring the relationship between innovation and markets, places an emphasis on products and their design. The small companies of the British outdoor trade were able to achieve high levels of innovation through a combination of personal knowledge and networks. The environment itself--with buoyant, emerging, and changing markets--encouraged innovation, which in turn was inseparable from sporting advances. Networking behavior also evolved through time, with changes in market conditions, company profiles, and the environment. Personal networks were especially important in the 1960s and 1970, when firms were small and where owners were usually responsible for both designing and marketing.