The development of small craft-based businesses in Scotland

Brown, Douglas C.J. (1981). The development of small craft-based businesses in Scotland. MPhil thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f75d

Abstract

As it had been found that there was little authoritative published evidence regarding the crafts in Scotland, this research programme was initiated in 1975 to rectify that situation.

The subjects were broadly defined as being self-employed, engaged in all aspects of the craft business and within the range of skills and creativity which combine to form the commonly accepted basis of a craft.

Within the overall objective, emphasis was placed on the identification of the craftsmen and craft businesses, of the influences upon them and on the general trends. From the combined results it was anticipated that development potential might be assessed.

The co-operation of bodies such as the Scottish Development Agency was sought and received, providing invaluable source material, and leading to the development of an index of craft businesses. That index, up-dated annually throughout the four-year period of research, was the basis for analysis of elements such as the movements in craft population, physical distribution and the numerical strengths of the individual crafts. Such analysis established a clear relationship between the location of craft businesses and population density, found the largest craft groups to be ceramics, silversmithing and jewellery and weaving, and identified an increase in the craft business population between 1975 and 1977 and a decrease in 1978.

A pilot survey in 1976 confirmed the feasibility of a survey which was conducted in 1977. The survey results established the importance of these businesses in terms of employment and contribution, and identified the strong characteristics of independence and personal association with the craft on the part of the proprietors. The principal influences externally were found to be those exerted by market forces, the attitudes adopted by the retail trade, the policies adopted by government agencies responsible for the crafts, and internally by the background training, experience and motivation of the proprietor. It was found, despite the rich variety of backgrounds and the lack of training and experience of many, that there were insufficient features which could adequately distinguish the performance potential in a business at this point in time.

The strategy being adopted by the Scottish Development Agency, as one of the principal planners and administrators for the crafts, of directing assistance towards entrants with assessable levels of training and of exerting pressure towards improved standards, was noted.

It was therefore concluded that an alternative staged strategy should be adopted - of improving basic knowledge of factors such as the reasons for failure in business; of providing a broad base of assistance in the initial stages of a business with more specialised and appropriate assistance being made available as the business develops according to the capability and motivation of the proprietor.

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