Creating Identity in Interaction with Business Media

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Creating Identity in Interaction with Business Media

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Title: Creating Identity in Interaction with Business Media
Author: Boutaiba, Sami; Strandgaard Pedersen, Jesper
Abstract: In contemporary society, it is believed that things are changing at an increasingly rapid pace. We see this in newspapers, books, or every speech we listen to that modern (business) life is a race towards new horizons, or towards newness tout court. No matter which standpoint one engages vis-à-vis the rhetoric of change and the accompanying need to innovate and be creative, it is important to reflect upon the way one presents oneself vis-à-vis important stakeholders, including the most invested stakeholder – oneself. It is also within the strong rhetoric of change, that we witness an often-mentioned observation that economic transformation and globalization continue to alter how organizations and employees view work, and that these transformations require that workers and managers understand and adjust to major changes in definitions of and approaches to work, organizational structures, and relationships within and among organizations. Social scientists like Caves (2000) and Florida (2002) argue that creativity, as a resource, is critical for long-term economic development and that creative industries, in particular, act as agents of change that help drive economic development. In fact, creative industries are experiencing rapid growth, both in Denmark (Kultur- og Erhvervspolitisk Redegørelse, 2000; Regeringen, September, 2003) and globally (Pine and Gilmore, 1999), and it is generally believed that there are important lessons to be learnt from the "cultural, creative motor". Yet, they are little understood. Caves (2000) notes that, ‘economists have studied a number of industrial sectors for their special and distinctive features’, but have largely missed ‘the creative industries supplying goods and services that we broadly associate with cultural, artistic, or simply entertainment value’ (Caves, 2000:1).2 What researchers of creative industries have yet to examine, is not only how organizations within the creative industries operate and how the organizational members define and manage work, but also how the very meaning of being a creative company is performed, for example in a process of narrative identity construction. Thus, the purpose of this study is to identify and understand the narrativeforms and processes through which creative enterprises organize and manage their symbolic communication and, in the process, attempt to balance creative-artistic and commercial interests. In this paper, we shall focus upon Zentropa, a filmmaking company that has generally been accredited with the etiquette of ‘creative agent of change’ vis-à-vis the Danish film industry. Thus, Zentropa is recognized as a creative player that has made a difference and it is to this narrative of Zentropa as a creative company that we direct our attention. More specifically, we propose that it matters what narrative is told about a company, and how a specific narrative is enacted, changed, and challenged during the course of a specific development. For a company like Zentropa, for whom the modern mantra ‘there is more identity in deviation than in conformity’ (see e.g. Bauman, 2000; Giddens, 1991; Sennett, 1998), it seems vital to represent and identify themselves as anti-establishment and a rebel with a cause in its way of being a film company in the Danish film field. The very concern with deviation, with being different, seems to force Zentropa to engage in ongoing reflections as to their own narrative identity. In a more general vein, we contend that there is a great need to come to a better understanding of the dynamics of identity (as also pointed out by Albert et al., 2000:14) in a society that appears restless in its infatuated praise of speed, innovation, and change. These are values with consequences for the way we make sense of ourselves and relate to others. Moreover, these are values that seem embodied by the exemplary case chosen in this project, namely Zentropa, an organization that seems almost exhibitionistic in its constant involvement in dialogues in the public space. Thus, Zentropa seems an exemplary case to study the narrative concern of being innovative, as Zentropa has become widely renowned for being innovative and for having contributed to a long-overdue renewal of the Danish film industry, as important characters in the story of Zentropa have narrated themselves as a ‘Maverick’ (Becker, 1982) within the high-framework filmmaking and is generally recognized as a remarkable example of innovativeness in Denmark (Kultur- og Erhvervsministeriet, 2000). This paper focuses more specifically on the way in which Zentropa performs an identity in interaction with one of its very significant others, namely the written press. This paper is in particular interested in studying how organizations through different forms of interaction and communication with the business media present and get their enterprises represented. Communication is obviously not a one-way street, thus this study will focus on the complex interaction between the creative enterprise and the business media.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/6720
Date: 2005-01-21

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