Developments and challenges in networking in small and medium sized arts organisations A multiple case study
Networking is a strategy that has been studied in detail in economic management literature. What is not known, is the differences in inter-organisational professional networking practices in the arts and culture, a non-profit sector. Through an examination of networking in four cultural SMEs, the researcher will identify similarities and differences between cultural networking and standatz business-driven professional networking. Networking activity planning and execution will be analysed, and, at points, specific cultural networking practices will be evaluated. A qualitative research design, paired with a mixed-method approach, including desk research and case studies, will generate rich qualitative data. The study combines inductive and deductive theory building (Yin 2014) to identify building blocks for a theory of inter-organisational cultural networking. Interviews were carried out with representatives of four organisations situated in Edinburgh, including The Travelling Gallery, The Stills Gallery, the International Children's Festival, and Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. Each resulting case study encompassed both an organisational and individual perspective on networking. The analysis finds that professional networking is most effective if integrated into the overall strategic long-term planning of an organisation, only done if needed, planned thoroughly, executed informally, and aligns with the values of the small and medium-sized cultural organisations. The findings give implications for policy making. Professional advice and hands-on experience are essential for development of professional networking competencies of young cultural professionals to ensure alignment with values of the arts and cultural sector. The offering of a support structure for the development of soft-skills could contribute to making the arts and culture more inclusive and diverse. A toolkit could answer some questions, but does not replace the experience in cultural organisations. Additionally, governmental support is needed to create a more sustainable cultural sector through strengthening relevant sector agencies that help organisations to create networks. An infrastructure is needed that connects organisations more effectively in an open system (Holden 2010), with the potential to take pressure off many cultural organisations and to create a much more sustainable sector.