Not Just A Pretty Face: Economic Drivers Behind The Arts-In-Business Movement
Journal Of Business Strategy
Purpose: Interest in the uses and effects of art and methods of art making in businesses of all kinds is on the rise. In this paper, we show that the “arts-in-business movement” is no mere fad, that it is, in fact, driven by fundamental economic forces, two tectonic shifts moving the business world. Financial crises and other like disruptions not withstanding, these shifts will increasingly influence how companies, especially those based in developed economies, compete. Consequently, business success in a not-too-distant future will, for many companies, require a new understanding of art and art making, a sophisticated appreciation of, and a feel for, aesthetic principles. Design/methodology/approach: We develop an economics and business strategy based model using historical facts and empirical patterns to illustrate how two tectonic shifts now gathering force and momentum will change the way businesses, especially those based in developed economies, compete. The first shift, toward differentiation based business strategies, arises from the emerging realities of the globalized economy, and is enabled by increasingly mature communications and transportation networks. The second shift, toward iterative modes of production that lead to more artful innovation, is supported by recent developments in information technology. We compare the transformation from Industrial to Post-Industrial economy to a centuries earlier transition from Craft to Industrial economy, demonstrating that the changes underway have potential to be every bit as important as those earlier changes. Our arguments and analyses are based on and summarize findings from a multi-year field based research project. Findings: Business success in the not-too-distant future will, for many companies, require a new understanding of art and art making, a sophisticated appreciation of, and a feel for, aesthetic principles. Managers will need to improve their understanding of these principles, will succeed or fail in business competition based on how well they master them. Although many have long labeled certain poorly understood aspects of business “art” and wished to turn them into science or engineering, to make them more industrial, something more like the opposite will occur – some formerly industrial aspects of business will evolve into something very like art. Practical implications: Firms that develop and exploit artful methods will be a step ahead of their competition. Insightful managers should begin now gaining a better understanding of how notions like “aesthetic coherence” can improve their ability to compete. Originality/value: This paper looks at current events from a perspective rare in business practice and research, presenting familiar facts in a new light, and urging a long-term view quite different to the current short-term reasons for moving work off shore. We reach conclusions opposite (or nearly so) what many might casually assume, reaching counterintuitive endpoints of our empirically and analytically developed arguments, which many readers will consider surprising.
Robert Daniel Austin , '84 and Lee Devin.
"Not Just A Pretty Face: Economic Drivers Behind The Arts-In-Business Movement".
Journal Of Business Strategy.
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