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Motivations for Establishing Cooperative Companies in the Performing Arts: A European Perspective

Christine Sinapi () and Edwin Juno-Delgado

A chapter in Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory & Labor-Managed Firms, 2015, vol. 16, pp 63-107 from Emerald Publishing Ltd

Abstract: Abstract European performing arts companies, intrinsically fragile, have been severely hit by the economic crisis. Within the global search for new economic models in the sector, a growing number of initiatives have been taken in the form of establishing collective and participatory firms. Their forms vary from simple interorganization resource pooling to proper registration of a cooperative. Our research aims to understand the motivations of project initiators for collectively organizing their business. We test the influence of instrumental versus ideologically driven motives as well as the influence of the socio-economic context on the decisions of performing arts entrepreneurs (artists, producers, or directors) to establish participatory firms. We relate these results to the success or failure of collective firms and to the degree of cooperation. We use a qualitative method based on semi-directive interviews conducted in 21 performing arts collective organizations, over two years and in six European countries. Interviews were integrally transcripted and processed using qualitative data analysis software (QSR NVivo 10) in order to realize axial coding. We found that while the context, instrumental logic, and ideologically driven motives influence the decision to establish collective organizations in performing arts, it is the ideological dimensions that are predominant and constitute a necessary condition for the success of a participatory organization. We observe that the more collective organizations are ideologically motivated, the more they are likely to be successful in the long run (success being assimilated to economic sustainability). We also find that the greater the importance of the ideological motive, the more integrated the cooperation. Eventually, these results provide significant information regarding the form of collective firms in performing arts. We observe the emergence of new forms of cooperatives that comprise cooperatives of production and projects or companies, establishing participatory and democratic governance, and pooling resources and financial risk while preserving the artistic freedom of artists. We view these emerging types of cooperatives as a promising avenue both for the sector itself and for the development of the cooperative movement beyond its traditional sectors. The findings suggest that public incentives, as they are currently set up, may miss their objective of promoting shared practices in the arts or even be counterproductive; thus, it would be to their advantage to be modified in light of the above results. We also defend the interest of trans-border cooperative organizations inspired by the cooperatives of production and their governance models and organizations. Despite a number of studies highlighting cooperation in the cultural sector, research on cooperatives in this sector remains embryonic. This paper contributes to this literature. We argue that applied research in this sector can be of contributive value to the literature on cooperatives and participatory firms.

Keywords: Cooperatives; motivation; performing arts; collective entrepreneurship; shared practices; J54; Z11; L26; L31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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