Balancing the creative business model

Date: 23 September 2020

Venue: Frederik De Tassiszaal - Hof van Liere - University of Antwerp, City Campus, Prinsstraat 13 - 2000 Antwerp (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 4:00 PM

PhD candidate: Walter Johannes van Andel

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Annick Schramme, Prof. dr. Koen Vandenbempt

Short description: PhD defence Walter Johannes van Andel - Faculty of Business and Economics

Balancing the creative business model

The PhD defence will be held at Hof van Liere, Frederik De Tassiszaal (City Campus, University of Antwerp, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp) and can be attended online through Blackboard Collaborate. To receive the link to attend the online PhD defence, please send an email to before Friday 18 September 2020.

Balancing the creative business model. Essays on business models of creative organizations within and between institutional fields

The environment in which many creative organizations operate is highly complex and volatile. Moreover, SME creative organizations are often faced with a multitude of different (conflicting) interests, and are therefore often faced with many tensions that can endanger their potential for reaching long-term sustainability. This dissertation focuses on deconstructing and understanding the business model solutions that creative organizations employ that help them deal with such issues into separate components. At times, this dissertation takes on a specific focus on the sector of architecture. In recent years, the broader construction industry has been undergoing several significant trends that seemingly have led to a decrease in architects’ professional autonomy in projects. From a strategic point of view, different responses from architectural firms can be seen that attempt to address this. Most architectural firms decide to focus even more on the original core premises of architecture: the act of designing a building (and/or the broader built environment). A second response is of a smaller group of architectural firms that try to reexamine their role by expanding it. These organizations - as experts in aesthetics and socio-spatial solutions to contemporary challenges - attempt to take on a larger role in projects by either initiating the projects themselves and/or by taking control of the construction phases. These two different responses can be witnessed not only in the architectural sector but also in other creative fields where organizations often experience a similar marginalization of their role within larger value chains with the power balance shifting towards capital-rich players.

In five separate studies, this dissertation takes this strategic dichotomy as a demarcation to further explore the relationship between contextual influences and specific business model responses. Using a qualitative approach, 25 creative organizations, including 14 architectural firms were analyzed. Overall, two major themes emerge from the analyses. The first theme focuses on the act of acknowledging and understanding the (often-times quickly altering) complexity and how it influences the organization’s ability to achieve long-term ambitions, as well as on the act of devising specific activity sets that help reduce the complexity or help to order the complexity in a manner that yields positive outcomes. The second theme is that of challenging the present institutional order. Several of the organizations studied actively challenge the norms and institutional logics in their field by going above and beyond the defined role of the creative producer. These individuals and organizations have concluded that the current complexity leaves them unable to fulfill their essential mission, and therefore actively break with existing rules and practices, and have designed specific activity sets and tactics to deal with the consequences of that approach.