Common product, different skills: a comparative study of a craft-based industry in India and the UK

Rossiter, W. ORCID: 0000-0002-2199-1136, Smith, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-7359-8451 and Matthews, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-6031-7016, 2021. Common product, different skills: a comparative study of a craft-based industry in India and the UK. In: The 21st International Conference on Cultural Economics, Virtual, 6-9 July 2021.

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The distinctive nature of craft-based industries has been a growing area of both academic and policy interest in recent years. Globally craft is increasingly seen as an engine of economic development, regeneration and innovation. Some see it as a source of personal and community wellbeing. Others see in it a model of sustainable production (and consumption). And yet comparative international studies of craft-based industries remain rare.

This paper seeks to address this gap in the literature by comparing a craft-based industry in India and the UK - united by a shared endeavour to produce a common product – the cricket bat. The maximum dimensions of a cricket bat and the materials from which it may be fabricated are governed by MCC Law 5 . Wherever a bat is made, it must conform to the requirements of Law 5 in order to be regarded ‘legal’ for the purposes of the sport of cricket. The regulated nature of this product, in turn, provides an unusual opportunity to compare the nature of and organisation of production for a common product that is made in very different social, economic, historical and cultural contexts.

This paper uses data from primary fieldwork conducted with 8 cricket bat manufacturers – 5 in the UK and 3 in India - to compare and contrast the nature and development of craft-based industries in these two countries. In all cases the different stages in the cricket bat manufacturing process were observed. Interviews were conducted with key individuals comprising facility managers, business owners and operatives. Similar interviews were conducted with further key-informants who included ex-professional cricket players, retailers and coaches in order to capture user perspectives on the evolution of the product. A range of historical and documentary sources was also used, drawing on the extensive specialist literature on the game.

Despite being separated by a distance of some 7,000 kilometres, makers in the UK and India are seen to be united by a global value chain (GVC) that spans multiple continents. Notwithstanding the common nature of the product in question and the materials from which it is made, this study reveals evidence of differences in the organisation of production, tools, techniques and skills used to make cricket bats in India and the UK. These differences are seen to relate both to differences of climate and craft tradition. But they have also been influenced to significant degree by geopolitical factors and historical experiences of mass-migration. Furthermore, the case in question reveals interesting evidence of the influence of policy in the establishment and evolution of craft-based industries.

Item Type: Conference contribution
Creators: Rossiter, W., Smith, D. and Matthews, R.
Date: July 2021
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 01 Jul 2021 14:16
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2021 14:16
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