Strategic renewal in Aix-Marseille Provence

The Team at Aix-Marseille University have delivered their interim report looking at strategic renewal practices in relation to the production of cultural strategies in the Aix-Marseilles Provence (AMP) area.  After brief explanations of why Aix-Marseille Provence was chosen for this case study and of the methodology adopted, this blog focuses on two aspects of the report:  the mapping exercise and the development of a typology of co-creation strategies.  The authors of the report are Professor Edina Soldo, Dr Djelloul Arezki, Asst Prof Emmanuelle Moustier, and Dr Raphaëlle Peres.

Choice of territory and methodology

Why was the Aix-Marseille Provence metropolitan territory chosen?

  • It is the level at which the major strategic actors operate
  • The development of strategies at this level requires collaboration with stakeholders
  • It is different from other areas in three ways – the change to its boundaries, its large geographical size and its greater powers or competences

What is the methodology?

  • Exploratory:  each output results from empirical studies handling different concepts and mobilizing different research protocols
  • It attempts to understand the relevance of the AMP cultural project as a study subject for strategic renewal and co-creation/co-production strategies

Main results of the mapping exercise in the Aix-Marseille Provence area

Who are the cultural and creative stakeholders in the geographical area of study?

  • Cultural and creative enterprises represent a high proportion of all enterprises in the geographical area, amounting to 26% of all service providers (to individuals and to businesses).
  • Stakeholders work in a variety of professions, specializing around either a central artistic/creative discipline, or around a specific function within the value chain.
  • There are 12 main activity areas in which cultural and creative stakeholders operate: 9 directly cultural and 3 indirectly cultural
  • The majority of these activity areas provide services to individuals, with a small number providing services to businesses.

Where are the cultural and creative stakeholders located within the Aix-Marseille Provence area?

  • The territorial distribution of the cultural and creative stakeholders across the territory is uneven, with concentrations within:
    • two key territories: Marseille Provence and the Pays d’Aix.
    • the urban areas, generally, with Marseille as a very specific case, deserving more attention.

What is the nature of the organisational framework in which the cultural and creative stakeholders operate?

  • The organisations are relatively new.  91.6 % of the entities identified started their activities in the territory less than thirty years ago. More than half were created less than 10 years ago.
  • There is wide variety in the legal status of the organisations.  Explanations may be derived from:
    • The degree of public service sector support of individual artistic activities
    • The commercial and profit-making sector in individual creative activities

Strategic co-creation ingredients and a typology of co-creation strategies

The objective was to identify and characterize the strategic ingredients of the co-creation practices of the professional stakeholders operating in the cultural and creative sector of Aix-Marseille Provence, with a view to constructing a typology of the co-creation strategies in this field.

Four strategic ingredients were identified.

  • The nature of the projects co-created:  the identity of the project in artistic, cultural and creative terms and its feasibility as determined by logistic and administrative conditions.
  • The methods:  based on the types of tools used (eg contracts, pooling of equipment); the collective work practices adopted (such as meetings to develop ideas, networking for mobilization); and the support variables (such as materials and managerial resources).
  • The choice of stakeholders:  main observations being the pluralism of the stakeholders and the incidence of ‘opportunity’ rather than a deliberate choice.
  • The definition of end purposes: the two perspectives observed being the contribution to the economy or economic dynamism (external attractiveness) and as driver of societal development reinforcing the area’s (internal) attractiveness.

A matrix to analyse the degree of stakeholder participation in the fields of design, implementation and evaluation was then created, making possible the definition of a continuum of stakeholder participation in cultural projects.  Three profiles of democratic organizations are proposed in this continuum:

  • Profile 1. The hyper-democratic organization: it involves all its stakeholders in the different phases of artistic, cultural and creative action.
  • Profile 2. Democratic organization: stakeholder participation takes place in some but not all phases of the action.
  • Profile 3. The non-democratic organization: stakeholders are not involved in any phase of artistic, cultural and creative action.

A diagnostic tool is proposed for the process of participation in artistic, cultural and creative actions. It is based on strategic ingredients:

  • the primordial ingredient, referring to the actors who participate in the actions.
  • the repositioning and conceptualization of the different ingredients around the three phases of co-construction of an artistic, cultural and creative action:
    • Design of the action.  Three types of strategic ingredients – the artistic nature of the project, the logistical conditions and/or the administrative conditions.
    • Implementation of the action.  Ingredients relating to the tools and resources of the action and the management of the teams.
    • Evaluation.  Identification of the contribution of the action to sustainable territorial attractiveness.

These results are illustrated with the participation practices of three public and private cultural organisations.

Dr Jill Dixon is a senior research fellow in the COGOV project. 

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