The current descriptions of bricolage largely present it as a behaviour in new businesses in richer contexts. Therefore, more diverse context-specific explanations are needed in order to deepen our understanding of bricolage. While Bricolage behaviour has been largely explained in new businesses, in extremely constrained environments, even established firms use bricolage to mobilise resources.
This study set out to contribute to the understanding of bricolage by exploring it in an extremely constrained context. Using an interpretivist paradigm, empirical evidence from 8 case studies was collected through in-depth interviews and each is presented in a rich, ‘thick’ description. Through inductive coding, data-driven themes that highlight the nuances of bricolage when settings are extremely poor were derived.
The study examines the idiosyncrasies of bricolage behaviour in small established firms, found in poor settings, it finds that, everything is a resource that can be bricolaged. It also finds that there is varied intensity with which underlying constructs of bricolage- making do, using resources at hand and recombining resources are manifested throughout the entrepreneurial process. In the starting phases, making do dominates, in the surviving phase, using resources at hand becomes more prominent, while in the growing phase, recombining resources is prioritised. This suggests that in poor contexts, bricolage manifests as a process that occurs throughout the life of the business.
Additionally, the study highlights the sub-processes of bricolage,-scavenging, buttressing and refining. It explains how they interact by showing that scavenging precedes making do, buttressing precedes using resources at hand and refining precedes recombination of resources. Moreover different resources are used varyingly along the bricolage process.
Furthermore, it integrates bricolage with two concepts of adaptive persistence and community embeddedness. Adaptive persistence is an active and dynamic experimentation to meet new challenges with the aim of finally solving them. It is exhibited as continuous adjustment to absorb emerging environmental shocks. On the other hand, community embeddedness highlights the firms’ close connection and interface with its local community on activities beyond its core role. In turn, the community becomes both an active advocate and a customer of the firm. These behaviours facilitate firm development.
This work contributes to the understanding of bricolage behaviour by showing that the sub processes are more elaborate in poor settings and that established firms adopt these sub-processes varyingly as they develop.