The dream of the dram: Placemaking through rural entrepreneurship in the Scottish whisky industry

Shannon Harris, Frank Siedlok, Ziad Elshan

Within the context of rural entrepreneurship, we have developed an understanding of the hardships faced by ventures operating within remote areas. Issues such as lack of finance and unreliable infrastructure plague efficient operations and venture performance. However, even when facing such obstacles, ventures in these places ventures in these places often play an important role in community development, providing opportunities for employment, reducing inequalities, and alleviating poverty. As such, there is a call to consider the interactive nature of place and entrepreneurship, examining the role of rural entrepreneurs in creatively transforming their spatial contexts. To do so, this project examines the entrepreneurial placemaking of rural entrepreneurs in the Scottish whisky industry.

Placemaking refers to a participatory process through which spaces are collectively shaped by diverse actors to maximise shared value. We focus on rural entrepreneurs as important place-makers who, through their entrepreneurial activities, imagine new meanings of place and redefine sustainable development by mobilising spatial dimensions. A Scottish whisky distillery is an effective research setting as the industry is experiencing ongoing transformation focused on sustainable economic and environmental development. These distilleries are often associated with a sense of heritage and provenance, providing opportunities to explore placemaking processes.

We aim to capture rural entrepreneurs’ placemaking processes to inform academics and practitioners how to better incorporate characteristics of place into our understanding of this phenomenon and the impact this has on community resilience and sustainability.

This project is funded by the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) through their Research and Knowledge Exchange grant. Learn more.