ART, CULTURE AND MANAGEMENT: AN UNEXPECTED COMBINATION
Published on 19 January 2023 by NEOMA
ART AND MANAGEMENT ARE FIELDS THAT ARE MUCH MORE CLOSELY RELATED THAN PEOPLE WOULD THINK. THE LATEST BOOK FROM THE NEOMA ALUMNI, ART, CULTURE & MANAGEMENT COLLECTION OFFERS CONTRASTING PERSPECTIVES ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF MANAGERIAL CULTURE.
Combining art and management is not that simple. For a long time, they seemed like opposites, with art being a selfless pursuit while companies are more profit driven. Art is entertaining, thus providing a distraction from work. A lot of arts spring from the imagination whereas the business world is rooted in reality. In short, they are two worlds seemingly at odds.
However, the connection between business and art is not new. The first examples can be found in Italy during the Renaissance in the form of private patronage. Since the 1970s, some bridges have developed around philanthropy for example, and through the support of several executives for contemporary art (in France, François Pinault and Bernard Arnault are well-known examples). At the same time, different forms of media, literary reviews and books focused on the professional world promoted this theme linking art and management.
However, it was only starting in the 2000s that the theme of art in management achieved genuine status, particularly with the work of Henry Mintzberg, including Manager: ce que font vraiment les managers.
We have two dimensions living side by side. First, the influence of art in companies was often connected to the realm of creativity. Then, artistic techniques became tools to make managerial training more effective. In an article from 2013, Jean-Michel Heitz emphasised this strong link, drawing a parallel between hermeneutics and management. He quoted a famous line from Henry Mintzberg from 2011, “Effective management stems more from art […], art produces the “insight” and “vision” that is the product of intuition”. But this link can be even more far reaching, integrating other inspiring fields for companies.
The other dimension concerns management’s contribution to the artistic field. With its many special features, this sector is also an economic sector with businesses that require the application of management methods. Some researchers even compare entrepreneurs and contemporary artists facing competition.
The creative and cultural industries (CCIs) are a key economic sector, particularly for certain countries like the United States, Great Britain, India and France. In France itself, the CCIs are one of the six leading export sectors. So great is their importance that these industries have become a field of study in management sciences over the past several years.
FIVE MAJORS AREAS OF FOCUS
The convergence of art and management is now manifested through five major, mutually reinforcing trends.
The geopolitics of art with the importance of companies: art is a “soft power” component, particular the forms that are easily accessed by a large number of people (music, cinema, television). This is a major issue for certain countries, including in questions of linguistics. But this geopolitical challenge affects not just nations, but private players and companies as well.
Management beyond creativity: art has an impact on the management of companies well beyond the often mentioned concerns over innovation. The contribution to aestheticising management can be seen in company organisation, risk management, leadership and culture, the implementation of new hybrid working methods, space layout, workplace well-being, management methods and change management, as well as coaching, marketing and strategy. Art is thus a source of influence for companies, particularly with regard to new working methods.
The art economy is more than ever a key sector. In France, the CCIs are a 100 billion euro sector, meaning that they are as large as the agri-food sector and twice as large as the automotive sector in added value, with 1.3 million people working in it. Along with the aviation industry, it is the economic sector with the most exports in France. The CCIs are thus a key sector for France today and in the future. Art’s importance in the economy also affects the economies of other countries, including emerging countries. China is the largest consumer of video games and the second largest buyer of artwork. CCIs are Nigeria’s second largest industry.
However, there remain major infrastructure inequalities in terms of production and distribution. The U.S. has one cinema for every 8,000 people, while Africa has one cinema for every 1.5 million people. The cultural economy retains its own specific features. The majority of cultural markets are fringe oligopolies, a prototypal economy that often has in the background a continuing dual approach between art and trade. The importance of patronage is another example of this economic impact.
The strengthening of digital technology’s role: digital technology is radically transforming the art world, depending on the circumstance, in different aspects of the value chain. It is changing production in the architecture, video game, cinema and television sectors. The impact can be seen in building preparation methods (for example, with Building Information Modelling, or BIM, in architecture) as well as in the very character of construction. More broadly, the status of the artist can even be reconsidered as we’ve seen with the role of social media, which are conduits for new creative models (Instapoets for example), and with the impact of recognition, influence and even payment (advertising versus copyrights).
Digital technology, even the mix between the physical and digital worlds or “phygital”, leads to a change in how film, television and the performing arts are disseminated, with new ways of discovering artwork as well: binge watching, increased or decreased speed by the viewer on the platforms, etc.
Comic books or literature, with printing on demand, are also affected. Digital technology is changing modes of consumption in cultural tourism, fashion and painting through blockchain (with Non Fungible Tokens).
And physical spaces are also feeling the influence. Museums offer 3D tours, which have greatly increased in number during the COV-19 crisis.
Effective convergence: The revolution of platforms fully illustrates the convergence between art and other domains. Let’s take the definition proposed in the book Platform Revolution: “It’s an activity based on the capacity of creative value interactions between producers and external consumers. The platform provides an open and participatory infrastructure for these interactions and also provides their governing conditions”. If this model has already had an impact on certain sectors (music, film, television), it could extend its influence even further (other fields of art, education, health, retail, etc.).
This convergence will even have an impact on how companies operate, or even more widely, on capitalism. Questioning the wage-earner model, historically connected to the second industrial revolution, does not only affect the vehicle-for-hire services, but also through this convergence, as such, the different models in the cultural sector.
AN IMPORTANT VALUE
Forty years ago, some people were wondering if management was an art. Things have changed! This trend where art and companies merge closer together has assumed such a scale that more and more studies analyse the contributions art makes to companies and vice versa. This new approach is such that several researchers have set up complete analysis criteria for it.
In examples from recent books based on this field of analysis, you’ll find hip-hop management or the musical vibrations in innovation, promoted by Albéric Tellier. In 2021, the researcher Dominique Phanuel went even further, speaking about the concept of hybridisation: “At a macro level and in society, the spheres of the economy, industry, art, culture and entertainment are blending, mixing, bypassing and permeating each other […]” While art and management can seem contradictory, the two are starting to enrich one another more and more.
Art is getting a hold on management and management is seizing art. Art and management have an increasingly close connection and, in this age of searching for meaning, this connection has a real value for both companies and the artistic domain.