Sub-theme 50: The Power of Performing in Performing Arts Organizations

John Child
University of Birmingham, UK
Joanna Karmowska
Oxford Brookes University, UK
Roy Suddaby
University of Victoria, Canada

Call for Papers

Flexibility, professionalism, creativity, innovation, teamwork, flat structures, effective leadership, diversity as well as governance structures that support delivery of high quality outputs to a planned place and time, are often identified as desirable competencies of contemporary organizations operating in an information-intensive, rapidly-changing, competitive world (e.g. McGrath, 2013; Adler, 2006). Yet, performing arts organizations, a category of organization that embodies many of these features has so far attracted limited interest among researchers.

Hunt, Stelluto and Hooijberg (2004) suggested using symphony orchestras for more systematic organizational research. Weick (1998) and Barrett (1998) used the vehicle of jazz improvisation to explore organizational improvisation and learning respectively. Adler (2006) looks to arts and artistry for insights on leadership. Hirsch (2000) drew our attention to networking practices in cultural industries. Lindgren and Packendorff (2007) discussed the construction of project and individual identities taking the example of theatres. There is increasing academic interest in the strategy, performance and organization of the creative industries, and the assumption is often made that their creative character requires a different form of management (Townley, Beech and McKinlay, 2009).

Our goal is to bring together scholars interested in performing arts organizations, such as dance, music, opera, theatre as well as musical theatre, in order to investigate management practices and organizational processes in such creative organizations. Cultural organizations are increasingly considered as organizational templates for manufacturing as well as service firms (Lash & Urry, 1994; Townley et al., 2009; Karmowska & Child 2014). The analysis and synthesis of experiences from different performing arts organizations will help us to better understand and define these 'templates'.

In keeping with the EGOS 2016 Colloquium theme, we are particularly interested in the aspects of organizing in performing arts that can contribute to understanding the role that power plays in them. This includes the invisible, implicit, improvised or unintentional processes of power as well as more embedded aspects such as the power of sponsors ("ownership"), management, and creative professionals. Contrasts with other types of organization could also be of great interest. Both conceptual and empirical contributions are welcome.

Papers may address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

  • Classifications of performing arts organizations, their similarities with and distinctiveness from organizations from other sectors
  • Impact of the audience on structure and process
  • Creative individuals in creative organizations – conflict and mediation mechanisms
  • Coordination of creative offerings that are made up of many, smaller individual contributions
  • Stakeholders of the creative process, their influence and interrelationships
  • Leading for creative performance
  • Relationship between the professional identities of artists and group processes
  • Organizational policies and practices to deal with the unpredictability, risk and uncertainty that are often intrinsic to artistic production
  • Factors that support and impede bringing creative products to the market
  • The importance of social capital and social networks
  • Methodological dilemmas in studying performing arts organizations




  • Adler, N.J. (2006): "The Arts and Leadership: Now That We Can Do Anything, What Will We Do?" Academy of Management Learning and Education, 5 (4), 466–499.
  • Barrett, F.J. (1998): "Creativity and Improvisation in Jazz and Organizations: Implications for Organizational Learning." Organization Science, 9 (5), 605–622.
  • Hirsch, P.M. (2000): "Cultural Industries Revisited." Organization Science, 11 (3), 356–361.
  • Hunt, J.G., Stelluto, G.E., & Hooijberg, R. (2004): " Toward new-wave organization creativity: Beyond romance and analogy in the relationship between orchestra-conductor leadership and musician creativity." The Leadership Quarterly, 15 (1), 145–162.
  • Karmowska, J., & Child, J. (2014): "The symphony orchestra as an organization – Harmony or dissonance?" Paper presented at the EGOS 2014 Colloquium in Rotterdam, sub-theme 13.
  • Lash, S., & Urry, J. (1994): Economies of Signs and Space. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Lindgren, M., & Packendorff, J. (2007): "Performing arts and the art of performing – On co-construction of project work and professional identities in theatres." International Journal of Project Management, 25, pp. 354–364.
  • McGrath, R.G. (2013): The End of Competitive Advantage. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.
  • Townley, B., Beech, N., & McKinlay, A. (2009): "Managing in the Creative Industries: Managing the Motley Crew." Human Relations, 62 (7), 939–962.
  • Weick, K.E. (1998): "Improvisation as a Mindset for Organizational Analysis." Organization Science, 9 (5), 543–555.


John Child is the Chair of Commerce at the University of Birmingham, UK, Professor of Management at Plymouth University, UK, and Visiting Professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, the Academy of International Business and the British Academy of Management. In 2006, he was elected to be both an Honorary Member of EGOS and a Fellow of the British Academy [FBA]. He has been Editor-in-Chief of 'Organization Studies' and Senior Editor of 'Management and Organization Review'.
Joanna Karmowska is a Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies and International Management at Oxford Brookes University, UK. Her research interests focus on cultural organizations and international entrepreneurship.
Roy Suddaby is the Winspear Chair of Management at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria, Canada, and a Strategic Research Advisor at Newcastle University Business School, UK. He is the outgoing editor of the 'Academy of Management Review' and the incoming co-editor of the essays section of the 'Journal of Management Studies'.