The Cultural Product: Integration and Relational Approach

The Cultural Product: Integration and Relational Approach

Lucia Aiello (Universitas Mercatorum, Italy) and Claudia Cacia (University of Salerno, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5007-7.ch001
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Abstract

In this chapter, the authors approach the theme of the definition and classification of cultural products according to the major Italian and international authors dealing with the issue, knowing that culture, before being the core product of an enterprise, belongs to people. They argue for more theoretical discussion into the organizational and managerial dynamics of cultural product, drawing from the consideration that to date management research is neglecting cultural product as a serious object of investigation despite its economic, social, and political significance. Starting from the analysis of the main literature on “culture,” the authors show a new concept of cultural property: the integrated cultural product. Moreover, the analysis of cultural product, the distinctive characteristics and dynamics of cultural industries are made adopting a relational approach. As a result, the aim of this work is to define the unique dynamics of the integrated cultural product in a relational perspective.
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Introduction

Culture2 is considered a common good, a key element of community’s wellbeing, for the entire humanity (refer to the definition and classification of Cultural Heritage adopted by UNESCO), and as such everyone is responsible for preserving, maintaining and developing it. “Culture” defies easy definition (Knight, 1999). It is not just the arts, but the larger meaning of our pastimes, habits, images, institutions, perspectives on the world, collective memory and our bilingualism and multiculturalism” (Canada Vital Link, 1987). Such a broad definition makes it difficult to grasp fully the precise scope of the subject being considered. However, in the context of the culture debate, the concern is both with culture per se both with the means by which it is delivered, that is to say, cultural industries.

The term cultural industries encompasses a wide variety of commodified activities, including the mass media (print and broadcast media and advertising), film, new media, art, design, music, and architecture. Conversely, although it is an important area of research and of economic activity, there has been a significant gap in systematic studies of these industries (DiMaggio & Hirsch, 1976; Pratt, 1997a; Sadler, 1997; Scott, 2000b; Powder, 2002).

Due to the importance of such industries in the dissemination of culture, different governments have sought to provide support for their maintenance and growth. The more complicated questions are for the debate around culture in considering if whether cultural products are goods or services and also, whether cultural products from different countries constitute “like” or “directly competitive or substitutable” products. Despite the importance of these issues, the previous consideration reflects the confusion created by the dual nature of culture.

Braun and Leigh Parker have noted that culture does not fit easily into the definition of either a service or a good. Clearly, cultural products have both significant service and good components. In this context services seem to be more labour-intensive and less tangible than goods, so cultural performances more closely resemble services. As well, things such as legal and financial services involve the dissemination of information, or skill and knowledge; this dissemination appears analogous to the role played by books, periodicals and even audio-visual products-all of which are clearly physical products. Many cultural products must exist in physical form in order to be distributed to potential audiences (for example a legal opinion may be contained within a written memo, but this would not transform it from a service into a good).

Technological advances have blurred the distinction further, as satellites and the Internet now allow cultural products to reach wide audiences without being packaged and shipped across borders. For these reasons, it is impossible to fit culture neatly into either category of good or service. Although, the WTO put a little clearly on the question of how cultural products are to be treated but disputes will likely continue as to whether culture is a good or service (Bernier, 2005; Löhr, 2010).

Culture is also an exchange value so it is a product (good, service, idea), but one that calls for good, consistent and shared economic, social and cultural models (AA.VV, 2005), these models however, must not disregard the UNESCO’s definition of World Cultural Heritage considering culture a good belonging to all mankind: “Everyone must be enabled to enjoy culture” - “Culture is a world heritage site” (UNESCO, 2005).

The key to addressing this debate is to acknowledge, as Voon does, that cultural products have cultural as well as commercial value, and to understand that cultural value is highly prized, just as is the multi-billion-dollar industry that produces cultural products (Voon, 2007). Accordingly, many authors such as Bassett (1993), Bianchini (1993), Bryan et al. (2000), Dziembowska-Kowalska and Funck (1999), Fuchs (2002), Heilbrun and Gray (1993), Hudson (1995), Landry (2000), Lorente (2002), Myerscough (1988), O’Connor (1998), Throsby (2001), Weinstein and Clower (2000), and Whitt (1987), among others, have all commented on the potentialities of the cultural economy for job creation and urban regeneration in stagnating areas, and value creation (Scott, 2004).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Products: Goods and services that include the arts (performing arts, visual arts, architecture), heritage conservation (museums, galleries, libraries), the cultural industries (written media, broadcasting, film, recording), and festivals. UNESCO has declared that these products are «not like other forms of merchandise.

Cultural Chain: Several players operate in the cultural chain both independently and as part of the industry human resources (or collaborators of the artist).The main player is the artist who directly or indirectly manage the production/distribution of the artistic creation, next to which integrative activities are vertically held. Without these activities the production and distribution of culture cannot be achieved. These activities are the design, assigned to a designer and the reproduction/displaying represented by the cultural activity. Support activities that are in the horizontal part of the chain are the protection, which is usually carried out by a person/public institution and distribution, which can also be performed by an external cultural distribution agency. Each element in the cultural chain can be self-managed or managed in accordance with the market logic. The cultural enterprise should consists of one or more undertakings which independently or linked carry out all or part of the above considered activities. The objective of the cultural chain representation is two-fold: 1. to connect into a system “along” the chain the actors and activities involved, identifying their roles and tasks; 2. to provide a first distinction and classification of the cultural enterprise.

Cultural Enterprises: Those performing an activity of prevalent artistic and cultural content, in order to achieve an objective of social order, “the community’s cultural growth.” The cultural enterprise, just like any other enterprise, needs adequate tangible and intangible assets, that is an appropriate working capital to achieve its institutional mission.

Cultural Products as Service: Have both significant service and good components. In this context services seem to be more labour-intensive and less tangible than goods, so cultural performances more closely resemble services. As well, things such as legal and financial services involve the dissemination of information, or skill and knowledge; this dissemination appears analogous to the role played by books, periodicals and even audio-visual products-all of which are clearly physical products. Many cultural products must exist in physical form in order to be distributed to potential audiences (for example a legal opinion may be contained within a written memo, but this would not transform it from a service into a good).

Matrix of the Degree of Complexity of Cultural Product: Is represents the cultural product means two main variables, respectively: 1) Offer Product-number of elements (including technology components); and 2) Consumer/Market-level of needs met and experiences. This element can also be represented by the level of consumer perceptions. The model assumes that the variables of the Supply and of the Demand have the same or different values, for example high degree of consumer knowledge and low level of needs/experiences to satisfy. The degree of complexity of cultural product is the sum of the values of each element of the variables in terms of complexity.

Cultural Firm in the Broad Sense: Is represented by the cultural industry and the media (for example, film industry, newspaper) whose core business is an art product (good or service) coming from a production and/or distributive process where the “contact between the artist, his art and the consumer is indirect.”

Cultural Firm in the Strict Sense: Consists of the performing arts, especially of those in which the core business is a “direct contact” between the artist, his art and the consumer.

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