Balancing Act: Learning from Organizing Practices in Cultural Industries
Organization Science, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 263-269, May-June 2000
Posted: 12 Jun 2011
Date Written: 2000
The dilemmas experienced by managers in cultural industries are also to be found in a growing number of other industries where knowledge and creativity are key to sustaining competitive advantage. Firms that compete in cultural industries must deal with a combination of ambiguity and dynamism, both of which are intrinsic to goods that serve an aesthetic or expressive rather than a utilitarian purpose. Managers involved with the creation, production, marketing, and distribution of cultural goods must navigate tensions that arise from opposing imperatives that result from these industry characteristics. In this paper we outline five polarities that are shaping organizational practices in cultural industries. First, managers must reconcile expression of artistic values with the economics of mass entertainment. Second, they must seek novelty that differentiates their products without making them fundamentally different in nature from others in the same category. Third, they must analyse and address existing demand while at the same time using their imagination to extend and transform the market. Fourth, they must balance the advantages of vertically integrating diverse activities under one roof against the need to maintain creative vitality through flexible specialization. And finally, they must build creative systems to support and market cultural products but not allow the system to suppress individual inspiration, which is ultimately at the root of creating value in cultural industries.
Keywords: cultural industries, opposing imperatives, artistic values, economics of mass entertainment, novelty vs. familiarity, market transformation, flexible specialization
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