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

See all articles by Joseph Lampel

Joseph Lampel

Alliance Manchester Business School

Theresa Lant

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Jamal Shamsie

Michigan State University - The Eli Broad College of Business and The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management

Date Written: 2000

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Lampel, Joseph and Lant, Theresa and Shamsie, Jamal, Balancing Act: Learning from Organizing Practices in Cultural Industries (2000). Organization Science, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 263-269, May-June 2000, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1862832

Joseph Lampel (Contact Author)

Alliance Manchester Business School ( email )

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room 9.21
London, Choose a State M15 6PB
United Kingdom
0161-820-8344 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/research/joseph.lampel/furtherinformation

Theresa Lant

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Jamal Shamsie

Michigan State University - The Eli Broad College of Business and The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824-1121
United States
517-432-3518 (Phone)

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