Bringing innovation back in–strategies and driving forces behind entrepreneurial responses in small-scale rural industries in Sweden

Paulina Ines Rytkönen*, Pejvak Oghazi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The paper contributes to the debate about local food and conceptualization of rural entrepreneurship by analysing the performance of small-scale dairies departing from their relation to innovations, innovative activities and risk.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors use phenomenography to identify representative categories, and to draw conclusions about how these are consistent or different from dominant definitions of rural entrepreneurship and self-employment. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews, participatory workshops and compiled a database of all small-scale dairies established between 1968 and 2020.
Findings: A focus on innovations contributes to differentiate between rural entrepreneurship and self-employment and how these interact in the process of economic growth. Innovations are seldom disruptive. Instead, innovative behaviour is strongly related to business models and to imitation. Social capital and collective action play a key role for the innovative capacity of small businesses, especially to realize disruptive innovations, such as the establishment of a new market.
Research limitations/implications: The innovative capacity of rural businesses can be understood through their ability to break patterns, alter institutions and turn embededdness into assets. Rural entrepreneurship and self-employment are intertwined in the economic growth process.
Practical implications: Innovative behaviour is a significant aspect for firm survival over time, and it is also strongly related to new business models. Most rural firms can be characterized as self-employment, the latter are essential because they provide rural livelihoods and help bring maturity to newly established markets.
Social implications: The right type of support, e.g. adopting enabling industrial regulations and granting access to constructive experiences of others, contributes to the innovative behaviour of small-scale rural firms. Originality/value: This study differentiates rural entrepreneurship from rural self-employment by analysing the role of innovation. The authors show how innovations and innovative behaviour work their way through the process of economic growth and how innovation can break patterns by turning rural embeddedness into assets; and how innovative behaviour related to self-employments contributes to the creation of value and interacts with entrepreneurship in the process of economic growth.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalBritish Food Journal
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2550-2565
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 22.07.2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Business models
  • Innovation
  • Local food
  • Rural entrepreneurship
  • Self-employment

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