From “Patchwork” to “Tapestry”: The Combined Roles of Interactions and Management Tools within a Process of Innovation in the Performing Arts Sector

By Pascale Amans, Agnès Mazars-Chapelon, Fabienne Villesèque-Dubus

This article explores the notion of Sectoral Systems of Innovation (SSI) in the performing arts. New original artistic productions in this field are accompanied by strong interactions between public institutions, organizations and professional networks. The performing arts sector thus constitutes an ensemble of knowledge, actors, networks, and institutions, an SSI in accordance with Malerba (2002, 2004). More precisely, this research aims to understand the structuring effects of the intersecting dynamics of interactions and management tools on artistic innovation. The specificities of the performing arts sector, notably its innovative dimension and highly institutionalized character, have led us to adopt the reading framework put forth by neo-institutional theories as well as those linked to management tools. From an empirical point of view, we have drawn on the study of a theatrical organization in a particularly exemplary situation of innovation. Initially under the impetus of a public institution, it has since built partnerships with many other performing arts organizations to put forward an innovative artistic program in the context of a specific cycle of concerts. This article shows that the initial flexibility of the patchwork between different organizations allowed for the cycle to be launched and thus for artistic innovation to emerge within the studied theatre; the growing formalization of the interactions, together with a progressive structuration of mobilized management tools, have subsequently allowed for the cycle to be inscribed in the duration around a communal management blueprint, to enlarge the field of cooperation and, ultimately, to perpetuate and enrich observable innovation at the level of this same theatre.


  • product innovation
  • process innovation
  • sectoral system of innovation
  • performing arts
  • interaction
  • management tool
  • neo-institutionalism
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