Sub-theme 22: Creative Industries Revisited: Addressing Invisibilities, Inequalities, and Injustice

Doris Ruth Eikhof
University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Axel Haunschild
Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany
Silviya Svejenova
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Call for Papers

Creative activity is our great need; but criticism, self-criticism, is the road to its release.
John Dewey

Research into the creative industries, and relatedly into arts management, cultural organizations and the cultural economy, has recognized the ongoing quest for novelty and authenticity in creative endeavours (Jones et al., 2005; Jones et al., 2016; Castañer & Campos, 2002). It has emphasized the importance not only of creative ideas, but also of networks and expertise (Townley et al., 2009), as well as the associated distinctive values, career paths and lifestyles (Moeran & Strandgaard Pedersen, 2011; Eikhof & Haunschild, 2006). Studies have delved into various paradoxes and individual, management and organizational challenges (Eikhof, 2014; Jones et al., 2007; Lampel et al., 2000). Yet, while accounting for these paradoxes and challenges, research has contributed to shaping a predominantly positive view of these contexts, in terms of their purview and social, culture al and economic significance (Caves, 2000), e.g. driving desirable economic and social development, and originating new forms of organizing and production.
At the same time, practitioners and scholars alike have started raising concerns about substantial invisibilities, inequalities, and injustice behind this positive image. For instance, permanently precarious employment erodes creative workers’ rights and makes them vulnerable to exploitation and sexual harassment (Conor, 2015; Hennekam & Bennett, 2017), reliant on hope (Alacovska, 2018) and “labour of love”(Menger, 1999) for having a career. At the same time, creative careers are less accessible for workers of certain gender, social and ethnic backgrounds, and the resulting social inequalities are often worse than in other industries (Eikhof, 2017). Creative industries’ online business-models crowd out local shops for cultural products and entertainment venues, while the creative class’ physical presence in a city fuels gentrification and drives rents up (Peck, 2005). Lastly, cultural institutions, as well as creative production and events, for example, fashion and music festivals, have considerable environmental impact that requires both collective action and policy attention (Maxwell & Miller, 2017).
Alternative forms of work, organization, and production are emerging that seek to address these invisibilities, inequalities, and injustice, e.g. shielding creative employment through collaborative circles, creative collectives, orco-operatives (Boyle & Oakley 2018, Farrell, 2001), engaging in creative work for social purpose (Svejenova & Christiansen, 2018), opting for peripherality as a programmatic choice (Grabher, 2018), or leveraging arts-based organizing for resistance (Serafini, 2018). However, overall and in much contrast to their glamorous and positive image and policy appeal, the creative industries have been exposed as delivering growth that remains exclusionary rather than inclusive (Banks, 2018), and for doing so in ways that endanger the sustainability and responsible development of culture, economies and societies. These issues and the possible responses to them call for better understanding and new conceptualizations, rethinking and revisiting our theories on organizing in and of the creative industries and cultural organizations (Banks & O’Connor, 2017; Schlesinger, 2016).
This sub-theme seeks to offer space for these conversations and for bringing together new theoretically informed and empirically grounded research on creative industries. It aims to advance our understanding of the role creative industries and the cultural economy (can) play in shaping sustainable futures and organizing for responsibility and resistance to the pressing challenges of society, and to reflect on the interdisciplinary conceptual developments required to produce such understanding.
Research on the creative industries constitutes a both excitingly and dauntingly multitudinous field, encompassing management and organization studies, cultural studies, sociology of art, work and employment, geography, cultural and public policy, as well as education, art history and the various industry-specific debates (e.g. media studies or screen studies). The sub-theme seeks to advance creative industries’ research by bringing together and identifying points of connection, but also of contradictions across these multiple contributions.
EGOS has been a welcoming home for creative industries’ research in the past, in sub-themes and the recently concluded EGOS Standing Working Group. While those encounters have been fruitful and advanced creative industries research, less attention has been paid to the dark sides of these industries, their ambivalent relationship with sustainability and responsibility, and their duality in both critiquing and creating invisibilities, inequalities and injustice. It is timely to revisit the creative industries as an empirical and theoretical domain, and what better location for that than Hamburg, a renowned hub for creative minds, with the creative and media industries being essential for its economy. Hamburg has also a long-standing tradition of critical art, anti-bourgeois critique and creative resistance, whether in its world-leading cultural institutions, such as Kampnagel, one of Germany’s largest production houses curating new art formats, or its cultural quarters, most famously St. Pauli and the Schanzenviertel, and more recently the Gängeviertel. There will thus be various opportunities for establishing meaningful connections between the sub-theme and its local Hamburg context.
This sub-theme seeks to attract contributions that revisit the creative industries as a phenomenon-driven theoretical domain of organizational research by (1) accounting for their invisibilities, inequalities, and injustice, (2) offering insights into how organizing can enable more responsible approaches to producing cultural and creative output, and (3) developing new theoretical and methodological connections across disciplinary boundaries to improve their understanding as an active force towards a more sustainable future. In addition, we hope to receive submissions that explore these issues in less investigated creative contexts, such as those in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, as well as those involving minority communities or indigenous art.
In particular, we invite research on the creative industries and cultural organizations that delves into but is not limited to the following issues:

  • What role is the cultural economy imagined to play in shaping sustainable futures – by policy makers, advocacy groups and campaigners, as well as by creative producers and consumers? How are different past and future horizons mobilized in discussing creative industries’ engagement with sustainable development?

  • How do tensions between cultural economy as vivacious, inspiring and entertaining, on the one hand, and precarious and harmful, on the other hand, influence creative work and production? How are resistance and advocacy for renewal organized?

  • How do imperatives of innovation, novelty and creative expansion relate to ideas of heritage, preservation, conservation and measured use of resources?

  • What are the sustainability implications of creative production? How do responsible and sustainable business models and forms of organizing creative production get (re-)imagined and trialled?

  • What established and emerging cultural and economic policies and practices help promote inclusion, sustainability, and responsibility? How is the impact of sustainability initiatives assessed?

  • How can the resource use of cultural and creative production, in terms of talent and materials, but also infrastructures and political commitments, be made more sustainable? What is the role of global supply chains and consumption modes in improving the industries’ environmental footprint?

  • How is activist art organized to address inequality, injustice and sustainability issues in the public arena? How are citizens and communities engaged (e.g. feminist art collectives, socially engaged art, environmental awareness and impact)? How can such forms of organizing inspire reform and renewal in the creative industries more broadly? What are the creative, career, and ethical implications in the use of AI and other technologies? How do immersive technologies change creative work and production? What new challenges to the sustainable organization of work and responsible use of resources arise from new technologies?

  • What new directions can inspire future work in the field of creative industries and cultural organizations? What concepts, theories and methodological designs can help develop the understanding of their role as active force towards a sustainable future?



  • Alacovska, A. (2017): “The gendering power of genres: How female Scandinavian crime fiction writers experience professional authorship.” Organization, 24 (3), 377–396.
  • Alacovska, A. (2018): “‘Keep hoping, keep going’: Towards a hopeful sociology of creative work.” The Sociological Review, 67 (5), 1118–1136.
  • Banks, M. (2018): “Creative economies of tomorrow? Limits to growth and the uncertain future.” Cultural Trends, 27 (5), 367–380.
  • Banks, M., & O’Connor, J. (2017): “Inside the whale (and how to get out of there): Moving on from two decades of creative industries research.” European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20 (6), 637–654.
  • Boyle, D., & Oakley, K. (2018): Co-operatives in the Creative Industries. Think-piece. Manchester: Co-Operatives UK.
  • Castañer, X., & Campos, L. (2002): “The Determinants of Artistic Innovation: Bringing in the Role of Organizations.” Journal of Cultural Economics, 26 (1), 29–52.
  • Caves, R.E. (2000): Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Conor, B. (2015): “The Hobbit law: Precarity and market citizenship in cultural production.” Asia Pacific Journal of Arts & Cultural Management, 12 (1), 25–36.
  • DeFillippi, R., Grabher, G., & Jones, C. (2007): “Introduction to paradoxes of creativity: Managerial and organizational challenges in the cultural economy.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 28, 511–521.
  • Eikhof, D.R. (2014): The transorganizational context of creative production: Challenges for individuals and management.” C. Bilton & S. Cummings (eds.): Handbook of Management and Creativity. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 275–297.
  • Eikhof, D.R. (2017): “Analysing decisions on diversity and opportunity in the cultural and creative industries: A new framework.” Organization, 24 (3), 289–307.
  • Eikhof, D.R., & Haunschild, D. (2006): “Lifestyle Meets Market: Bohemian Entrepreneurs in Creative Industries.” Creativity and Innovation Management, 15 (3), 234–241.
  • Farrell, M.P. (2001): Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Grabher, G. (2018): “Marginality as strategy: Leveraging peripherality for creativity.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 50 (8), 1785–1794.
  • Hennekam, S., & Bennett, D. (2017): “Sexual harassment in the creative industries: Tolerance, culture and the need for change.” Gender, Work and Organization, 24 (4), 417–434.
  • Jones, C., Anand, N., & Alvarez, J.L. (2005): “Manufactured Authenticity and Creative Voice in Cultural Industries.” Journal of Management Studies, 42 (5), 893–899.
  • Jones, C., Svejenova, S., Strandgaard Pedersen, J., & Townley, B. (2016): “Misfits, Mavericks and Mainstreams: Drivers of Innovation in the Creative Industries.” Organization Studies, 37 (6), 751–768.
  • Lampel, J., Lant, T., & Shamsie, J. (2000): “Balancing Act: Learning from Organizing Practices in Cultural Industries.” Organization Science, 11 (3), 263–269.
  • Maxwell, R., & Miller, T. (2017): “Greening cultural policy.” International Journal of Cultural Policy, 23 (2), 174–185.
  • Menger, P.-M. (1999): “Artistic Labor Markets and Careers.” Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 541–574.
  • Moeran, B., & Strandgaard Pedersen, J. (2011): Negotiating Values in the Creative Industries: Fairs, Festivals and Competitive Events. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Peck, J. (2005): “Struggling with the creative class.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29 (4), 740–770.
  • Schlesinger, P. (2016): “The creative economy: Invention of a global orthodoxy.” Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 30 (1), 73–90.
  • Serafini, P. (2018): Performance Action: The Politics of Art Activism. London: Routledge.
  • Svejenova, S. (2005): “‘The Path with the Heart’: Creating the Authentic Career.” Journal of Management Studies, 42 (5), 947–974.
  • Svejenova, S., & Christiansen, L.H. (2018): “Creative Leadership for Social Impact.” In: C. Jones & M. Maoret (eds.): Frontiers of Creative Industries: Exploring Structural and Categorical Dynamics. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 55. Bingley: Emerald Publishing Limited, 47–72.
  • Townley, B., Beech, N., & McKinlay, A. (2009): “Managing in the creative industries: Managing the motley crew.” Human Relations, 62 (7), 939–962.
Doris Ruth Eikhof is Deputy Directorfor the CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies and Associate Professor at the University of Leicester School of Business, United Kingdom. She has worked and published extensively on careers, employment and workforce diversity in the cultural economy and (co-)led a broad range of funded research projects, including for the British Film Institute, Creative Diversity Network, Nest and various arts & culture organizations.
Axel Haunschild is Professor of Work and Employment Studies at Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany. His research interests include changing forms of work, employment and organization, gender and work in the performing arts and sustainability from an industrial relations perspective. In an ongoing project funded by the German Research Foundation he investigates the nexus of funding policies, working conditions and aesthetics in the independent theatre scene.
Silviya Svejenova is Professor of Leadership and Innovation at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and Adjunct Professor at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo. Her most recent work delves into the discursive, material, visual and temporal dimensions of innovation in the context of creative professions, new categories and executive roles, city identities, and collaborative spaces for civil creativity and innovation.