Understanding roles in a broker retail venture in the creative industries
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date29/06/2024
Villamar González, Pamela
We Built this City (WBTC) is a broker venture trading innovative London-themed goods in a pop-up shop in the emblematic Carnaby Street in central London. WBTC was born by founder Alice Mayor's vital purpose to support creative professionals, bringing together a team to fulfil her vision through a journey of five shops and a successful e- commerce website. Putting together a functional team can be challenging for emerging ventures and even more for sole founders leading small groups of workers, where organisational roles will develop overtime alongside limited resources. Organisational role literature has mainly studied roles from psychological and sociological perspectives that cannot comprehensively explain changing contexts where roles adapt. The previous exposes a gap in understanding how roles unfold, encompassing dynamic organisational development over time. This study attempts to fill this gap by asking how the WBTC team enact their role to successfully perform brokerage relations within the venture's networks. From here, this research aims to understand how roles shape, evolve and articulate within an emergent and fast-growing venture from the creative sector. To answer this question, I adopted a longitudinal approach gathering rich qualitative data through multiple methods, to observe how the WBTC team performed their roles over time. I took an interactionist perspective that considered roles as non- fixed positions collectively constructed from different elements in individuals' social systems. I observed team roles evolving through the organisation's emergence and throughout its organising, stabilising and growing consecutive phases. To start, I mapped team members' interactions with suppliers and consumers, where roles collaborated to alleviate workload and avoid role overload. The data led to identifying two organisational dimensions where the WBTC team roles operate in tandem: (1) an individual dimension, engaging in dyadic relations with suppliers and consumers; and (2) a collective dimension, re-distributing role responsibilities to tackle contingent ventures needs while protecting individuals from role burnout. The individual dimension showed specialised types of relations categorised as customised and commoditised, leading team members to enact their roles in distinctive ways. These findings suggest that although in the individual dimension, team members categorised their relations in specific ways, in the collective dimension, they did not discriminate any category and shared responsibilities and tasks with actors from a different relational type or motivation of their own. Therefore, in this study, roles appear as a malleable structure that despite being initially scripted, were flexible to effectively reconfigure, allowing the team to act as a firmly integrated block in the face of change. These findings deepen our understanding on how different roles operate within creative teams. From theory, this research extends contemporary organisational role theory from a dynamic process perspective, extending our understanding on how roles shape and articulate in small teams as ventures evolve, showing how flexibility is vital to protect team members from suffering from role overload and for small teams to navigate multilevel network relations, which are critical for organisational survival and growth.