Bricolage as a Path to Innovativeness for Resource-Constrained New Firms


  • Julienne Senyard,

  • Ted Baker,

  • Paul Steffens,

  • Per Davidsson

  • We gratefully acknowledge the significant financial support that made this research possible. The Comprehensive Australian Study of Entrepreneurial Emergence/FEDP research is funded by Australian Research Council grants DP0666616 and LP0776845 as well as contributions from the QUT Faculty of Business and industry partners, the service provider BDO, and National Australia Bank.

Address correspondence to: Julienne Senyard, Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research, QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Queensland 4001, Australia. E-mail: Tel: 617-3138-2982.


Evidence suggests that both nascent and young firms (henceforth: “new firms”)—despite typically being small and resource-constrained—are sometimes able to innovate effectively. Such firms are seldom able to invest in lengthy and expensive development processes, which suggests that they may frequently rely instead on other pathways to generate innovativeness within the firm. In this paper, we develop and test arguments that “bricolage,” defined as making do by applying combinations of the resources at hand to new problems and opportunities, provides an important pathway to achieve innovation for new resource-constrained firms. Through bricolage, resource-constrained firms engage in the processes of “recombination” that are core to creating innovative outcomes. Based on a large longitudinal dataset, our results suggest that variations in the degree to which firms engage in bricolage behaviors can provide a broadly applicable explanation of innovativeness under resource constraints by new firms. We find no general support for our competing hypothesis that the positive effects may level off or even turn negative at high levels of bricolage.