The Disability Marketing and the Cultural “Product”: Italian Experience and Propositions for International Contexts

The Disability Marketing and the Cultural “Product”: Italian Experience and Propositions for International Contexts

Guido Migliaccio (University of Sannio, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5007-7.ch016
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Differences among people have to be considered as an opportunity, even in the field of economy. This would contribute to socially and professionally enhance the condition of people with disabilities. Due to an increase in life expectancy and medical advances, there are currently many people with disabilities. Disability creates significant burdens for public expenditure and for private enterprises including people with disabilities in their staff. Disability management facilitates the inclusion of people with disabilities in the production system, by considering diversity as an opportunity. There have been significant initiatives from museums and other cultural institutions, as well as publishing houses. Studies on this subject should therefore multiply in order to encourage the development of specific opportunity/cost measurement standards regarding the inclusion of disabled people in working processes and investments on products that, planned for all, favor disabled and non-disabled. In this new context, the education and culture of people with disabilities play a crucial role. In this chapter, the author focuses on the Italian experience which is assumed to be useful in broader contexts.
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The perception, definition and formulation of problem: diversity as an opportunity. Diversity is a prominent aspect of daily life (Migliaccio, 2012, p. 141). Environments, company, production factors and, therefore, people are ordinarily different. Economy has also to consider differences as a system’s structural element from which to draw all possible conveniences. In a context characterized by structural differences, special emphasis is put on people with disabilities: does their existence fit the production structure that is inspired by the logic of maximum efficiency?

Economic contexts underline differences among systems, corporate organizations and, more in general, production factors and processes, creating and characterizing competition. Similarly markets highlight coexistence of goods and services, submitted to customers, with deeply different identification, functional and esthetic traits, that coexist in competitive free markets. These opening remarks lead us to debunk the belief of an economic approach that, based on mere convenience evaluations, excludes “limited” elements –objects or people- from the optimal production process: “economic” efficiency in fact is not always the same as “technical” one. Excellent productive resources could have high costs, letting “worse” but less expensive factors be preferable. These last remarks support the idea of the introduction into productive processes of disabled human resources that can be competitive with non-disabled people, not just for a mere philanthropic approach1. And this even considering “intangible benefits” that often run away from usual business measurements.

In particular, the objectives of this paper are:

  • To focus on diversity in the field of economic studies, identifying potential challenges in the Italian doctrine that could be interesting for foreign scholars too.

  • To outline the role “disabled” people are likely to play in the globalized economic processes emphasizing the benefits that could result in the production cycle.

  • To analyze the characteristics of a renewed marketing management aimed at people with disabilities, with particular attention to cultural products.

  • To investigate and describe the major Italian experiences that are supposed to be useful in different and geographically and culturally distant contexts.

  • To highlight technical, social and economic conditions for the spread of cultural events aimed at people with disabilities too, in order to previously identify the investments that are needed to respond to a problem that is now widespread in all regions.

  • To provide critical reflection on Italian initiatives clarifying the main features that are exportable in international contexts.


1. Disabilities In The General Economic System

Public expenditure incurs fixed costs for disabled people: first of all health care and rehabilitation services (Migliaccio, 2009, p. 199). Moreover the financial burden associated with getting education and training, especially related to the need of assistant teachers and specific technologies.

Subsequently, public structures have to be built without barriers and promoting accessibility, often through heavy investments. Laws that facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities, can even “trouble” free labor market dynamics. However, the inclusion of disabled people into production could result convenient due to some system benefits that would justify grants to companies (Pizzuto, 1987; Scagni, 1987). First of all, it would be possible to use resources otherwise remaining inert and expensive, this will result in increased productivity. It would be even possible to release the resources of time and energy of the families in which people with disabilities live, otherwise devoted to assistance. Consequently, there will be individual and family income growth turning into tax return growth and in a rapid increase in the demand for goods and services. Furthermore, the disabled people’s associations, families and organizations influence investments and consumption choices, and the political orientations of a nation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Accessible Culture for All: The access to culture for all individuals, also that are particular needs; for example accessible cinemas, accessible theatres, accessible libraries, accessible archaeological parks, accessible museums.

Disability Technological Products: Technology includes the whole knowledge regarding the productive process and the benefit that could come from it ( Festa, 2009 , p. 287): the usefulness of technology in support of disability is clear when it is accessible and usable. Today companies have a propensity to avoid the provide disabled people with products that are formerly designed for non-disabled people. There is now the design for all ( Accolla, 2009 ): products are now designed to be approachable by everyone, taking into account that some services that are designed for disabled people may result in functional goods for non-disabled people too.

Disability Management: Facilitates the inclusion of people with disabilities in the production system, by considering diversity as an opportunity: it improves the overall productivity, thanks to the climate of greater tolerance and the enhancement of the company’s image stabilizing relationships with all stakeholders. People with disabilities are potential market opportunity also for companies that have appropriate disability marketing strategies characterized by specific variables. It is certainly an example to be imitated everywhere providing evidence that the cultural proposal of disability management is not abstract, but it can actually be transformed into productive initiatives in any area provided that culture and minimum availability of surrounding contexts are specific characteristics .

Disability Cultural Products: Cultural products and services are currently more accessible, mainly due to the development of technology and, in particular, electronics. Institutional responsibilities related to cultural products for people with disabilities should be shared by the organizations that are responsible for education and promotion of cultural heritage, not just by community offices and entities in charge of controlling public spending. The former, in fact, show a greater sensitivity to the needs of universal access.

Disability Marketing: Strategies characterized by specific variables. The principles of disability management and disability marketing must be refined and translated into business behavioral patterns, perceiving more and more the needs of people with disabilities, but also perceiving the real opportunities arising from them to the durability of companies and considering their needs as new markets to develop production. The disability can become an opportunity to innovate structures, processes, products, and to renew the management’s style and the business and work atmosphere. Such results are possible especially affirming a new culture that would eliminate narrow prejudices and develop positive reflections based on objective measurements of the situation.

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