Arts entrepreneurship

Business researcher helping musicians navigate a changing industry

Nov. 25, 2016

Rebecca-Franklin

Dr. Rebecca Franklin researches entrepreneurship within
the context of musicians and the music industry.
Photo: Karen Roche

A researcher at Memorial’s business faculty hopes her current research will help transform the stereotype of the starving artist into an image of the entrepreneurial artist.

Dr. Rebecca Franklin, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Business Administration, recently received her first Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for a project titled Entrepreneurship in the Arts: Fostering Entrepreneurial Behaviours that Lead to Positive Outcomes.

In an interview-based study, Dr. Franklin will look at how entrepreneurship develops within the context of the music industry and the types of entrepreneurial behaviours and activities musicians engage in that increase their levels of success. Dr. Franklin will look at musicians in Newfoundland and Labrador as well as in various established and emerging music regions in the United States, such as Austin, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla., respectively, for her study.

Long-time interest

Dr. Franklin joined Memorial’s business faculty in 2014 after completing a PhD in business administration, specializing in entrepreneurship, at Oklahoma State University in 2013. She’s long had an interest in the arts, beginning when she managed her brother’s rock band in her late high school and early post-secondary years and continuing when she worked in artist management in Nashville, Tenn., after leaving university.

pull-quote-Franklin-1Her project will expand upon the central question of how musicians facilitate positive outcomes by engaging in entrepreneurial behaviours as well as how communities can bolster a vibrant music scene to boost economies. She’ll also explore theoretical concepts such as bricolage, creative destruction and resource dependence and how they may or may not apply within the context of her study.

“One of the interesting things about this study is the context of the music industry itself,” Dr. Franklin said. “The industry appears to be in the process of creative destruction, where the economic structure that existed before is being transformed and replaced through creativity and innovation. The process isn’t over — the industry is still in a state of upheaval, and is emerging as something very different from what it was just a couple of decades ago.

“Many of the academic studies on creative destruction examine industries in retrospect — after the process of creative destruction has taken place,” she continued. “But, because the music industry is still in this transformative process, we’re able to look at specific entrepreneurial activities and behaviours that are emerging as well as how the industry as a whole is responding to creative destruction.”

Bolstering economies

Dr. Franklin hopes her research will help aspiring and struggling artists gain a better understanding of what they can do to be more entrepreneurial in a challenging industry. She says it’s important on different levels.
“One, we want to know more about what entrepreneurs can do to reach higher levels of success, and we want to know how this manifests in the context of the music industry,” she said.

“But also, we want to identify entrepreneurial behaviours and activities that create a vibrant music scene because that’s very important to a community’s economic development, as well as to the artists themselves.”

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Her research will also better inform entrepreneurial training programs for artists and schools and, as a result, help support economies in areas that have a vibrant music scene or seek to develop one. She says arts entrepreneurship is an area of increasing academic interest with more than 100 university and college-based arts entrepreneurship programs established and growing.

“As a fairly new area of academic interest, these programs need more research to inform their curriculum. To have entrepreneurship research that is directly grounded in the context of music and the arts should be particularly enlightening.”

Research interests

Dr. Franklin’s research interests include the role of cognition as it relates to motivation, self-regulation and well-being as well as other constructs that facilitate positive behaviours and successful outcomes for entrepreneurs and their organizations. She has been published in Journal of Management, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship.

Prior to pursuing her PhD, Dr. Franklin founded and established two businesses. As an entrepreneur, she was honoured in Oklahoma Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40, The Journal Record’s Achievers Under 40, and Urban Tulsa’s Top Movers and Shakers. 

Susan White