Original Research

Collaborating to compete: The role of collective creativity in a South African clothing design small business

Thea J. Tselepis, Anne Mastamet-Mason, Alex J. Antonites
The Southern African Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management | Vol 8, No 1 | a58 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajesbm.v8i1.58 | © 2016 The Authors | This work is licensed under Other
Submitted: 14 March 2016 | Published: 31 August 2016

About the author(s)

Thea J. Tselepis, Department of Fashion Design, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Anne Mastamet-Mason, Department of Fashion Design, Tshwane University of Technology,, South Africa
Alex J. Antonites, Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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Background: The number of apparel manufacturers in the South African clothing and textile industry is diminishing due to competition with importing apparel manufacturers. Nevertheless, South African small and micro-businesses still manufacture clothing products to meet the needs of the local markets.

Aim: This study set out to explore and describe the role of collective creativity in the design process of a South African clothing small business that provides innovative clothing to local niche markets.

Setting: The small and micro-businesses are typically owned by designers who can be viewed as artisan entrepreneurs. However, the competition for the local market is very competitive, and innovative designs and design processes can promote the competitiveness of the clothing small and micro-businesses.

Method: A case study research design was implemented in the study, which included qualitative research methods. Semi-structured interviews, participant observation and analysis of the products against an innovation design framework were done.

Results: The findings suggest that a collaborative design process supports the collective creativity of the particular owner-designers. Collective creativity enables innovative clothing products that result from the design process and it also reduced the perceived risk that the owner-designers experienced with regard to launching a ready-to-wear range.

Conclusion: It is argued that collective creativity contributes to sustaining innovative design and enhances abductive reasoning for problem solving. Abductive reasoning, which is typically associated with design thinking, could be important for entrepreneurial thinking and recommendations in this regard are made.


Collective creativity; design; competitive advantage; innovation


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