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Decision-making processes throughout meta-organizations' life cycle: A case study in the French cultural sector

Abstract : Meta-organizations (MO) are a specific form of organization that has significantly developed over the past decades (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2005, Berkowitz & Dumez, 2016). Decision-making processes within MO are one of the key points of their sustainability. Decision-making processes are increasingly being studied in the field of MO as they provide a better understanding of the nature of decisions taken and of the different participative arrangements emerging within MO (Berkowitz, Crowder & Brooks, 2020, Bor, 2014). Although MOs are studied within many areas, little work has been undertaken in the cultural sector. At the same time, the networking of these actors within a MO represents important support (Lorenzen, 2018). In a context of declining and scarcity of public funds, these associative structures tend to gather within MO. Understanding how this type of MO works is essential for the heads of associations in the cultural field. In this vein, UNESCO highlights that the cultural sector has been receiving an increasing interest thanks to its contribution to economic growth (3% global contribution to the world's GDP). Therefore, it is a highly growing market and a transformative one through income generation and job creation. In France, the cultural sector represents 47 billion euros (2.3% of the national GDP) and 2.5% of the total employment (671 580 employees) (French Ministry of Culture). Most papers about decision-making processes in MO points to the slowness of decision-making processes and, above all, to the difficulties of overcoming the phenomenon of inertia (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2005). When decisions are successful, they are leveled from the bottom to allow all participants to find their way into their decisions. These decisions lead to the elaboration of charters, recommendations, not binding regulations (Garaudel, 2019; Berkowitz et al., 2020). However, it is not yet clear how decision-making processes in MO are structured over time. For this purpose, we need to understand decision-making processes not as one unique process but as multiple processes that succeed one another. We raise the following research question : how are decision-making processes structured over time, and what are their characteristics during the MO lifecycle? Our results illustrate how the MO called "Collectif de Festivals" (an association created in 2005 gathering 27 cultural festivals in the region of Brittany in France) was shaped over the first years of its creation by highlighting two decision-making processes and their specificities. The first process observed led members to discuss and validate the shared values of their future charter, consisting of sustainable development principles in festivals. The second process brought members to consolidate the decisions taken during the previous phase and create an association. Our contribution is to show that the overall gradual decision-making process is made of a succession of decisions over time that allowed the MO to organize. In addition, key factors for success in decision-making processes are not the same throughout the history of the MO. This research also shows the extent to which decision-making processes are interlocking and dependent. These results can contribute to the formalization of managerial processes/recommendations and good practices within the cultural sector organizations represented by festival associations.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 10, 2021 - 3:33:38 PM
Last modification on : Friday, February 11, 2022 - 2:30:05 PM

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  • HAL Id : hal-03341206, version 1

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Sihem Mammar El Hadj, Laura Sabbado, Ingrid Mazzilli. Decision-making processes throughout meta-organizations' life cycle: A case study in the French cultural sector. 37th EGOS Colloquium, Jul 2021, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ⟨hal-03341206⟩

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