I. Introduction

Different research streams of the creative industries define the coexistence of commercial and creative using their own thematic elements. We identify four research streams that discuss the coexistence of commercial and creative: (1) the critical theorists, necessitating a classification of the creative industries that broadly includes the cultural industries (Hartley, 2005), the creation of symbolic goods (Cunningham, 2002) and intellectual property, analyze the coexistence in the context of power, class, and meaning. (2) For lack of a better term, the organizational theorists discuss the coexistence as a set of characteristics that define employment contracts (Caves, 2000) and flexible organizational structures (Barnatt and Starkey, 1994) whereas the commercialization process influences the creative production and vice versa. (3) Inter-organizational theorists and the research stream of institutional logics discuss the coexistence in a variety of ways to include the value of the creative and the commercial in shaping equality (McLeod et al., 2009) and organizational identity (Eikhof and Haunschild, 2007). (4) The research stream of wealth creation, drawing on historical entrepreneurship (Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990) discusses the coexistence by placing a broader economic value on the outcome of the coexistence between the creative and the commercial.

The essay question raises a number of problems with our interpretation of the coexistence of the commercial and creative. At root, it is problematic to define creative within the creative industries as we could potentially produce a number of different meanings to include a creative method of production, characteristics of the creative industry sector and organizational structure, the effect of creativity on employee relationships, class, and institutional logics, and the monetization of the creation and commercialization of new innovation. In each meaning, creative is seen to coexist with 3 commercial in very different ways. In some cases, creative and commercial don’t coexist but are seemingly the anti-thesis of each other whereby their conflict contributes to an erosion of culture (critical theorist stream). In other cases, creative and commercial are seen to act together in order to build new wealth for society (wealth creation stream). Yet in even other cases, their coexistence shape social value in beneficial ways to society (Inter-organizational stream).

What is further troubling is that these different research streams, although exceptional in their own right, prevent the development of an inclusive narrative. How can we sum our observations about the coexistence of the creative and commercial? What value can we place upon their coexistence?

To provide the best possible answer to the essay question, we have chosen to characterize the coexistence of the creative and commercial by both their relationship and the outcome of their relationship. From there we can classify their coexistence in two ways. First, we can classify their coexistence as either cooperative or competitive. Second we can articulate how the coexistence unfolds. We will also analyze the complimentary or contradictory nature of each research stream in relationship to each other. It is important to reconcile these contradictions and thus provide a summed response to the essay question.

II. Coexistence Between Creative and Commercial from the Perspective of the Critical Theorists

Our essay question is essential to the research stream of the critical theorists who begin their reasoning by confronting blind enthusiasm for the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, bound by scientific reason and among other themes a rationalization of culture, turns creativity, in the form of cultural and symbolic production, into a means of power and social control (Horkheimer and Adorno, 4 2007). This is augmented further by the notion of power and cultural production to suggest that the rationalization of culture and the knowledge and creative economies can be understood as a new form of imperialism aimed at both power and solving growth problems caused by stagnation and over-accumulation (Hesmondhalgh, 2008).

Baudrillard (1994) similarly explores the result of this crisis of meaning and rationalization of mass cultural production. When discussing the failure of meaning, he argues that the function of media is ‘neither information nor communication’, but a ‘perpetual test’, ‘circular response,’ and ‘verification of the code (Baudrillard, 1994). He envisions our current time as a time when there is no longer a sense of the real, a time when the model of reality overtakes the real (Baudrillard, 1994). At the heart of this lack of meaning is the commercialization of meaning as noted in his analysis of Disneyland (Baudrillard, 1994). Generally, critics of consumerism in postmodernism culture echo that the commercialization of society combined with the high level of aestheticization of culture has a corrosive impact on society in which the integration of art acts as an anecdote (Featherstone, 1991).

Bourdieu gives a deeper analysis of cultural production by distinguishing between small-scale cultural production and mass production (Hesmondhalgh, 2006) and subsequently between non-economic forms of capital such as symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 1983). He notes that the difference between commercial and cultural enterprises is the characteristics of the product and market (Bourdieu, 1983).

Bourdieu follows by using the distinctions between different forms of capital to ultimately elaborate on the political nature of cultural production (Bourdieu, 1983) whereas economic capital is destined to be at the ‘root’ of the effects of the other forms of capital (Bourdieu, 1986). It is not a departure to suggest that those with capital may have an advantage to shape cultural meaning, however, they are not uncontested by those who are wealthy in forms of symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 1983).

We begin to see key themes emerging in our analysis of the coexistence of the creative, in this case of the creation of culture, and the commercial. By introducing rationalization into the creation of culture, immediately the creation of culture becomes a battleground for capital and subsequently power. Their coexistence is characterized by a competition both for power and meaning.

This competition can be seen in a number of ways. First, they compete through ownership of capital, the creative seeking to leverage symbolic capital and the commercial seeking to leverage economic capital. Second, they compete for cultural meaning. Their coexistence can be considered to be filled with tension and power-seeking.

But a far subtler distinction and perhaps problem emerges. The critical theorists speak of the creative output of cultural production. We currently see cultural production and the creation of symbolic goods as major components of the ‘creative’ industries outlined by the DCMS (DCMS, 2001) and others (Cunningham, 2002). While the critical theorists seem to critique the production of symbolic goods, they don’t discuss nor place a value upon the act of creation itself. This is a 6 key problem we will return to later when providing a reconciled and summed response to the essay question.

III. The Coexistence of Creative and Commercial in Industry Structure

The second research stream constitutes those who have sought to understand how the characteristics of the creative industries shape the organizational structure of those industry sectors. Seemingly answering Bourdieu’s call to define the characteristics of the product and the market of cultural production, Cave’s provides the most conclusive narrative as to how the characteristics of the creative industries shape industry structure. In particular, Caves notes how uncertainty and differentiation, among other themes inherent in creative output, shape the commercialization process of the creative output; namely how agency structures are arranged (Caves, 2000).

Slightly broader, but similar arguments seek to discuss how industry structures influence creativity. For example, a study of the change in the UK television industry beginning in the 1980’s indicated a move toward flexible specialization (Barnatt and Starkey, 1994). Others discuss how industry structure creates strategic problems within an industry that is highly project based (DeFillippi and Arthur, 1998). But perhaps the fairest analysis shows that the broader organizational structure of an industry can influence culture directly, in light of our essay question, the commercial industry structure can confine and control ‘the creative’ (Negus, 1998).

Further complicating the picture of the critical theorists is evidence to show that high levels of externalization in industry structure influence the originality and 7 imitation of creative outputs in the film industry (Lampel and Shamsie, 2003). However, the motivation for changes in organizational structure, although strategic, can range from cost cutting measures (Barnatt and Starkey, 1994) to ‘changing patterns of market demand’ (Robins, 2007).

We begin to see that the coexistence of the creative and the commercial takes on a strategic and reactionary element in the face of market pressures. Although we still see a competitive coexistence between creative and commercial, the free market impact on the coexistence is a far different characterization than that of the critical theorists. It is interesting to note that the commercialization process is shown to improve ‘creativity’ in comparison to less conducive organizational structures. The coexistence is still defined by a competitive tension, but there is a hope that a cooperative coexistence may actually be a strategic improvement for the organization.

The departure from the critical theorists is worrisome because on one hand the organizational stream holds that the commercialization process may be liberating to creativity if the competition is resolved, while the critical theorists seem to suggest that the commercialization process must be minimized or eliminated to liberate creative or cultural production.

IV. The Coexistence of Creative and Commercial in Inter-organizational Relationships

There seem to be two different strains worth exploring. The first is how creativity changes an individual’s perception of work and the class equality within 8 the organization while the second can be classified under the umbrella of neoinstitutional logic.

Changes in organizational structure logically extend to changes in employment. There are theorists who suggest that a ‘creative’ career trajectory can lead to a feeling of a more authentic life (Svejenova, 2005). Svejenova (2005) quotes successful film director Pedro Almodovar: ‘experience has taught me that the more honest and personal my work is, the more successful I am’.

But the perspective of a wildly successful film director and his organization may not be indicative of the experience found by other empirical research. For example, in the TV industry it is suggested that the learning required for upward mobility is very difficult to obtain because of the contract based employment structure of the industry (Grugulis and Stoyanova, 2011). Similar findings note the challenges associated with breaking into careers that are externalized and project based. The career progression paradox cites the difficulty of receiving employment without prior experience when it is necessary for employment in the first place (O’Mahony and Bechky, 2006).

Other evidence shows that the value of cultural capital in the creative process has inspired a shift to a more class inclusive employment structure within the marketing industry (McLeod et al., 2009). It is worth noting that the creative process is seen as encouraging class equality within the commercial organization. The commercial organization becomes an equalizer rather than a stratifying force.

Before we embark on the second strain, it is possible to take away that there is a fundamental shift in the perspective of the coexistence between the creative and 9 commercial. The creative and the commercial seem to be on a more equal playing field. Some research suggests that creativity dominates the lack of meaning usually associated with the commercialization process. Although there also arises problems with employment in organizations typified by creative production, it seems there might be a way to support the creative either through regulation or some other method to improve the problems of project based and short term employment.

The logics of inter-organizational employment within the creative industries are a second research strain relevant to our discussion. It is noted that in some cases in creative or cultural production, ‘economic logics tend to crowd out artistic logics, and thus endanger the resources vital to creative production’ (Eikhof and Haunschild, 2007). Further, the importance of the artistic logic of production sees the creative output as having a social or societal value instead of a market value (Eikhof and Haunschild, 2007). Similar research has found that in an orchestra setting, two separate organizational identities were adopted by the workers (Glynn, 2000).

The first identity obtained its identity from ‘economic utility’ and the second from ‘creativity and excellence’ (Glynn, 2000). Because collective identity is shared between individuals there is necessarily group conflict during the formation of a collective identity (DiMaggio, 1997). Institutional logic brings us back to the research stream of the critical theorists where power plays a significant role in how the institutional logic forms within an organization (Thornton and Ocasio, 2008).

Is it more valuable when the creative institutional logic overcomes the commercial? Evidence shows that in some cases it may prove valuable to society by 10 creating more class inclusive hiring procedures (McLeod et al., 2009). It is interesting to apply this question to economic value. Is the creative more economically valuable than the commercial or the commercialization process?

V. The Coexistence of the Creative and the Commercial in Wealth Creation

It is reasonable to endeavor to articulate the relationship between the creative and commercial in the context of entrepreneurship. After all, the relationship between the commercial and the creative are at its most explicit in the creation of a new innovation even though empirical research suggests this relationship is an indirect relationship (Gielnik et al., 2012).

It is the creativity of the business venture that is responsible for innovation, which in turn may be responsible for ‘economic improvement’(Stevenson and Jarillo, 1990). Innovation led economic growth is said to increase per capita income and generally bring economic growth to society at large (Ahlstrom, 2010). Empirical research seems to suggest that a ‘breakthrough invention’ ‘creates wealth and surplus resources’ (Ahuja and Lampert, 2001).

We employ Schumpeter’s (1947) notion of the ‘creative response’ to further narrow our understanding of how creativity and commerce coexist. ‘Whenever the economy or an industry or some firms in an industry do something else, something that is outside of the range of existing practice, we may speak of ‘creative response’ (Schumpeter, 1947).

Here it is interesting to point out that the relationship between the creative and commercial is characterized by cooperation. The commercialization process of 11 bringing a new innovation to market is the vehicle by which the ‘creative response’ is driven into being.

We add that the process of the entrepreneur’s creative response drives wealth creation and the coexistence of the commercial and creative takes on an entirely different value than other research streams. It is a stark departure from the critical theorists and perhaps the most explicitly cooperative research stream we have investigated.

VI. Critical Analysis of Each Research Stream

As we have outlined in our introduction, we have sought to define the coexistence as either a competitive or cooperative relationship within each research stream and then characterize those relationships. We have characterized the research streams as follows: (1) the critical theorists characterize the coexistence as highly competitive and that the dominance of the commercial leads to cultural erosion. (2) The organizational structure stream at present seems to be coexisting competitively, but there is a promise that cooperating between the characteristics of the output of creativity and the commercial organizational structure could pose a strategic advantage. (3) The inter-organizational stream holds that in the case of institutional logic, the coexistence is of a competitive nature; while in employment structure it is a mixture of cooperation and competition. (4) Finally, the wealth creation stream holds that the cooperative coexistence between the creative and the commercial may increase society’s wealth.

It is important to note how different these research streams are in terms of how the coexistence is defined and the value placed on the coexistence. The critical theorists place an extremely negative value on the coexistence, while the wealth creation theorists seem to view the coexistence of creative and the commercial as one of the only viable alternatives to the price setting mechanism of classical economics. In the light of Hesmondalgh’s (2008) critique of neo-liberalism, the two research streams couldn’t contradict each other any more in the value placed on the coexistence of creative and commercial.

Further, the values between the organizational structure stream and the inter-organizational work stream don’t quite match up. Although in both cases there are elements of the cooperative coexistence between creative and commercial, aside from the possibility of strategy and class benefit, there are still elements to suggest the problematic nature of work in industry sectors that are characterized by ‘the missing middle’ (Grugulis and Stoyanova, 2011).

Institutional logics complicate matters as tensions arise between an organization’s need to seek a common identity usually pitting art and commercial against one another. How can the coexistence of creative and commercial in organizational structure lead to greater creative production (Lampel and Shamsie, 2003) while the same coexistence in the institutional logic strain hurt the creative production (Eikhof and Haunschild, 2007)?

VII. Discussion and Conclusion

It is impossible to reject any of the arguments put forth by each research stream during our interpretation of the coexistence between the creative and the 13 commercial. In fact, each research strain seems to provide exceptionally valuable insights into the creative industries, an industry sector that when we include software design, may be far and away the dominant industry sector throughout the course of my generation.

But the inability for each research stream to coalesce into a common narrative is troubling. The differences in each stream’s understanding of how the creative and commercial coexist undoubtedly makes it difficult for policymakers to articulate, let alone stand behind, any constructive and inclusive path forward – one that not only addresses the problem of work and industry organization, but also addresses macro social and economic issues such as absence of meaning and wealth creation.

Further, it is difficult to find any existing frameworks by which to interpret these different research streams. For example, we cannot frame the differences as differences in political or economic ideology such as liberal-conservative or capitalist-socialist.

For the purposes of our essay, it is difficult to sum our interpretation of the coexistence of the creative and commercial. We are left to conclude that the coexistence differs between research streams aligned to the different aspects of the creative industries.

But it is important to at least offer a summed answer to the essay question. I put forth that the coexistence of the creative and commercial must be understood in much broader terms than is available in current literature.

I am drawn to Plato’s Republic as an example of how to approach a similar change at such a fundamental level of our society. What I see as one of the major drivers of Plato’s Republic is a major shift in agency away from a slave form of agency to a free, agro-industrial form of agency.

The two characteristics of the creative industries that fundamentally change agency away from the agro-industrial form are (1) imagination is the central resource that is mined compared to agriculture or Earth provided resources and subsequently (2) the resources of the imagination manifested as technological advancement can harness infinite forms of energy, labor and resources. They are infinite compared to the finite nature of previous agro-industrial resources.

While I am fully aware of the brazen nature of such a postulation and I am aware this may seem at the surface a departure, I cannot think of any better way to answer the question at hand. If we look at the change in agency as the ‘third age’ for lack of a better term, we can reconcile each one of the problems of the differences in research streams as outlined in the previous section.

The infinite productive capacity of the imagination makes obsolete the critical theorist stream, as there is far less competition for meaning and cultural value. It all can exist simultaneously. The same themes of infinite resources make it possible for policymakers to truly consider different forms of capital, for example social capital, ecological capital, cultural capital, identity capital, etc.

Of course, I understand that characterization is a bit utopian. Nevertheless, to answer our question, the proposed reconciliation of the coexistence of creative and commercial begins to eliminate competition as a central component of the nature of 15 the commercial. It is interesting to consider the term commercial without applying a competitive aspect to it. It seems to become less evil. The term commercial seems to become similar to the word tool – simply a means to organize society without its destructive side. It implies free participation. We can conclude our essay by putting forth that the coexistence of the commercial and creative becomes entirely cooperative.


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