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ARTICULATING LEGITIMACY: STRATEGISING IN A MUSEUM EVELYN FENTON Centre for Social & Organisational Studies.

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Presentation on theme: "ARTICULATING LEGITIMACY: STRATEGISING IN A MUSEUM EVELYN FENTON Centre for Social & Organisational Studies."— Presentation transcript:

1 ARTICULATING LEGITIMACY: STRATEGISING IN A MUSEUM EVELYN FENTON Centre for Social & Organisational Studies

2 How do museum professionals formulate strategy? Little empirical research into strategy and decision making (Gray 2010) How do policy, museum practices and wider social Discourses interact to inform strategic thinking? How do discourses interact to inform legitimacy judgements? Intersection between Discourse, legitimation and strategy practices

3 Strategising in Not-for-Profits Underdeveloped area of organisational practice (Bennett, 2005; Katsioloudes and Tymon, 2003; Stone, Bigelow and Crittenden 1999) Planning for resource acquisition rather than allocation (Stone and Brush,1996), commitment and legitimacy critical Strategic planning in Alberta museum & heritage sites oppressive and undermining of professional practices (Oakes et al, 1998) No benefit from importation of management concepts (Eikhof & Haunschild, 2007; Glynn, 2000; Thornton et al, 2005;Townley, Beech & McKinlay, 2009) Little in-depth research undertaken about the micro-processes of strategising within Museums (Gray, 2010) Little attention to the forms and processes of legitimation which constitute strategising, or what this can tell us about how Museum professionals make sense of their organisation

4 Legitimacy: Institutional Theory Suchman (1995) “generalised perception or assumption that the actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs and definitions.” Legitimacy exists in varying degrees being ambiguous and socially constructed (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978; Mazza, 1999) Organisational outputs commensurate with social values or norms (Stillman, 1974; Francesconi, 1982; Epstein and Votaw, 1978; Dowling and Pfeffer, 1975) Defined from perspective of actors or society looking in on an entity (Pfeffer and Salancik, 1978; Suchman, 1995). Does not account for legitimacy work which takes place from within the organisation looking out

5 LEGITIMACY CONTENT Suchman (1995): Pragmatic, moral, cognitive Intraindividual dynamics of legitimacy judgements neglected: i.e. content, formation and change of the judgements themselves (Tost, 2011) Micro-level judgements interactions among individuals collective legitimacy & social reality Tost (2011) integrates institutional theory and social psychology to develop a model of how legitimacy judgements develop and change over time.

6 Dimensions of Legitimacy Judgements Definition of how an entity is perceived Examples of perceptions or beliefs that constitute the content of the dimension Instrumental Content An entity is perceived to facilitate the individual or group’s attempts to reach self-defined or internalised goals or outcomes. Related to the effectiveness, efficiency or utility of an entity. Relational Content An entity is perceived to affirm the social identity and self-worth of individuals or social groups and to ensure that individuals or groups are treated with dignity and respect and receive outcomes commensurate with their entitlement. Related to the fairness, benevolence, or communality that characterises the entity. Moral Content An entity is perceived to be consistent with the evaluator’s moral and ethical values. Related to the morality, ethicality, or integrity of an entity. Three Dimensions of Content underlying Individual-level Legitimacy Judgements (Tost, 2011).

7 THE LEGITIMACY JUDGEMENT PROCESS 3 Stage process: Judgement formation: evaluative or passive, content related to group identification Use stage: cognitive legitimacy Judgement reassessment: triggered by jolts, contradictions or reflexivity e.g. Strategy formulation Strategic planning forces organisations to reassess priorities, actions and their plausibility within their environment, or right to continue to exist: vehicle for legitimation Maitlis’ and Lawrence (2003) symphony orchestra’s failure to strategise shows the importance of interpreting and labelling strategic issues in a way that is legitimate to key actors and within the existing organisational discourse

8 LANGUAGE & LEGITIMACY JUDGEMENTS Decision to focus on instrumental (i.e. effectiveness & efficiency), relational (e.g. group loyalty), or moral (i.e. ethics & integrity) values can have a critical impact on the effectiveness of persuasion attempts (Tost 2011) Successful institutional entrepreneurship involves the establishment of connections between insurgent logics (i.e. alternatives to existing institutional arrangements) and broader discourses reflecting overarching social values (Geary and Jeffrey 2006; Suddaby and Greenwood 2005) Although we know a great deal about legitimacy in management and organisations, the discursive aspects of legitimation remain underexplored (Phillips et al 2004; Suddaby and Greenwood 2005; Vaara and Tienari 2008) In a Museum context the struggle for resource acquisition is frequently linked with managerialist ideologies around the need for accountability to and cost effectiveness for, late capitalist consumers (Chong 2000).

9 DISCOURSE & LEGITIMACY JUDGEMENTS Critical perspectives emphasise that the legitimation of particular actions also deals with broader social practices and the power relations of the social actors involved (Vaara and Tienari 2008) Senses of legitimacy are created in relation to specific discourses which provide the frames for sensemaking (Vaara and Tienari, 2008) Shift in focus from established senses of legitimacy to ongoing discursive struggles for legitimation (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985) Adopt a meso-discourse approach (Alvesson and Karreman, 2000) Use legitimacy judgements as a frame to understand how discursive struggles are articulated (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985) and momentarily resolved by organisational actors when they formulate strategy Strategy formulation could be conceptualised as contestation over articulation where museum professionals struggle to fix meaning, though temporarily, with regard to strategy by substituting their preferred Discourse for other discursive possibilities (Jian, 2011)

10 Why do Museums exist? Distinct differences of interpretation (Gray, 2011) InstitutionPurpose of MuseumsDiscourse Museums Association Enabling people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment Engagement/Social Inclusion MLA (2001) For inspiration and creativity, provide excellence and high quality in delivering core services, be a site for education and learning, be concerned with access, inclusion and economic regeneration and be involved in modernisation and rationalisation. Instrumentalism: Cultural Democracy Engagement Managerialist: Best practice DCMS (2006) Being concerned with children and young people, communities, economy and delivery and act as vehicles for positive social change. Instrumentalism: social Inclusion Social good Audit Commission (2005) These services need to demonstrate their success in meeting local, regional and national objectives in terms of healthier communities, safer and stronger communities, economic vitality, learning and quality of life for local people. Instrumentalism: engagement

11 LEGITIMACY DISCOURSES & MUSEUMS External actors: instrumentalism (Gray 2011): emphasis on outputs and impacts Managerialism (Chong 2000): consumers, arts managers Political mantra “education” (Gray 2011; Chong, 2000) Policy relevance = organisational focus on evaluative material Underlying practice of politics within the organisational setting of museums and galleries sector likely to have direct relevance for understanding how these institutions function Gray, 2011)

12 Understanding the Future: Priorities for England’s Museums DCMS (2006) DCMS Priorities and Discourse Content of Priorities Legitimising Strategies 1. Museums will fulfil their potential as learning resources (pp7-10) Instrumentalism  Museums will be embedded into the delivery of education in every school in the country.  Understanding of the effectiveness of Museum education will be improved further and best practice built into education programmes.  The value of Museum’s collections as a research resource will be well understood and better links built between the academic community and Museums. Instrumental 2. Museums will embrace their role in fostering, exploring, celebrating and questioning the identities of diverse communities (pp11-14) Cultural Democracy: multiculturalism  The sector needs to work with partners in academia and beyond to create an intellectual framework supporting Museums’ capacity to tackle issues of identity.  The Museum sector must continue to develop improved practical techniques for engaging communities of all sorts. Instrumental 3. Museums’ collections will be more dynamic and better used (pp15-18) Managerialism: Best practice/value  Government and the sector will find new ways to encourage Museums to collect actively and strategically, especially the record of contemporary society.  The sector will develop new collaborative approaches to sharing and developing collections and related expertise. Instrumental 4. Museums’ workforces will be dynamic, highly skilled and representative (pp17-22) Managerialism : HRM  Museums’ governing bodies and workforces will be representative of the communities they serve  Find more varied ways for a broader range of skills to come into Museums.  Improve continuing professional development. Relational Instrumental 5. Museums will work more closely with each other and partners outside the sector (pp23-26) Managerialism: Best practice  A consistent evidence base of the contribution of all kinds of Museums to the full range of public service agendas will be developed.  There will be deeper and longer lasting partnerships between the national Museums and a broader range of regional partners.  Museums’ international roles will be strengthened to improve Museum programmes in this country and Britain’s image, reputation and relationships abroad. Instrumental Relational Instrumental

13 RESEARCH QUESTIONS 1.What is the content of legitimacy judgements underlying strategy formulation? 2.What is the discursive basis for these legitimacy judgements? 3.How do Museum professionals articulate legitimacy judgements? 3 (a)To what extent is the language of government and management naturalised in these discourses? 4. What is the relationship between legitimacy judgements, Discourse and organisational practices?

14 METHODS Single case study of university owned museum with collection of national importance: University National Museum (UNM) Interviewed six professionals involved in strategic planning Documents: articles, strategic plan (draft & final) Interviews analysed thematically: talk labelled according to the type of legitimacy judgement (instrumental, relational, or moral) and within this the type of discourse underpinning the judgement (e.g. instrumentalist, managerialist, cultural democracy, social inclusion, cultural guardianship).

15 STRATEGIZING IN UNM UNM is also distinctive among Museums as it comprises three collections: objects, special collections library and archive. Narratives about strategy formulation and the strategic plan coalesced around two main concerns: 1.Professional practices and the strategic priorities within their professional domains. 2.Concern with UNM’s identity and purpose as a university museum which emerged in considering strategic priorities and in the creation of the strategic plan.

16 LEARNING MANAGER: professional practices...for me it’s slightly tricky because the work I do is I guess, essentially the public face of the University and it’s where the University meets the town...So it’s quite a fine balance really in terms of the programming and things like that...The University... it’s main thing is that it wants students in higher education and so... they are very keen obviously for me to work with secondary age students, sixth formers......that’s one of the reasons why we have taken the science route...the gallery is actually designed...according to materials and their properties which goes right the way throughout the whole science curriculum...we’re trying to get people to see museums as useful for something...other than history...cos that’s how we in the profession look at our objects and collections. And it’s about teaching people how we do that and giving them the tools, effectively to look and analyse themselves... so I guess that’s come from me, but it’s partly as an educator I see family learning as the fulcrum of lifelong learning in that sense it’s what links the learning that you do in school with the learning that you do as an adult. And I think as an educational institution if we’re serious about lifelong learning...then you have to start early and you have to support that and one of the ways that you can do that is with family learning... And it’s surprising, the difficulty is, is measurement, and that’s the hardest thing. Because most of the time measurement is done purely by numbers, bums on seats, and what it doesn’t tell us is the quality of experience or how deep the learning is and we know that often the learning is very deep, and if it is done right...you get somebody when they’re young, that learning is there and it stays with them and they can build on it, change it, develop it...but it is the hardest thing ever to measure.

17 UNIVERSITY ARCHIVIST: identity & purpose...what we need to do, and I think this is the priority for the museum, is to really ensure that we are delivering what they need; to do research around our collections...that’s the correct relationship between UNM and the university... we’re doing what we should be doing as a museum. Caring for the collections and making them available for research... I think we’re still trying to mesh the two halves of the collections together. The (Objects) side and the special collections side. I think one of the key things is how we market, how we brand it. That’s really important issue for us to discuss at the forward planning...it’s not even the objects and the archives, it’s the UNM identity which includes the UNM archives and the UNM library and the special collections, the old library identity...it’s those two identities, how do those still work? UNM has to keep its identity, it’s the reason that UNM exists in...certain funding bodies...UNM has an identity...is it actually three brands or...? I don’t know, we haven’t really thought this through...as a branding exercise. In terms of a management exercise, I do both...So, in some ways I have to be a bit of a driver of that kind of management integration but differentiation of brands, where necessary... I suppose that’s my key thing I want to get out of forward planning, is I suppose I have to thank you for helping clarify my thinking...Is just to be clear about, the fact that if I say, well we’re doing this managerially and its across the collections, people can’t then say “well I’m UNM I don’t do”. It’s like “No UNM is a brand that’s it.” We use it for reporting, we use it for marketing. We don’t, we shouldn’t be using it for management...otherwise I’m only half managing half the people... it just becomes some kind of matrix management which just doesn’t work.

18 DIRECTOR: presentational identity & purpose the Away-Day I think it was to do with really understanding what our functions were. And clarifying that we were partly here to look after collections, we’re partly here to make sure these are used and make sure that we’re reaching all the different users we want to. We are also here because we’re a University Museum to actually kind of extend knowledge. Our own knowledge, but also people’s knowledge of what these collections represent. And we’re also here to do some specific things that enable our communities to gain from that knowledge or that content. So those are the services and it might be a service that involves coming and sitting in the reading room, it might be going on a tour around the museum, it might be visiting the website. And then there are things about the way we run ourselves that also need to be featured in that document....there are few bits of the strategic plan that highlight specifically particular types of collection, but by and large I don’t think that’s... appropriate for a strategy document like that. I mean there were particular things... for instance... conservation, we felt that we really needed to spot like the archives...By and large it isn’t about, I try to avoid... getting too sort of stuck in the drains.

19 DIRECTOR: presentational identity & purpose the Away-Day DirectorStrategic Plan...the truth of it is these are difficult times, and you know being very ambitious about what you are going to do, I am really concerned, I suppose if I am really honest what I really think the challenges are over the next two or three years are staying afloat and not being cut back to a point where we can’t function, where we can’t build ourselves back, you know. There’s no question that we are going to have to make adjustments … Our strategy for will need to be adaptable to a challenging financial climate. This includes uncertainty over future funding levels; current arrangements for core funding for University Museums are under review in 2009 and planning must assume that all sources of external funding are likely to reduce and become increasingly competitive. At the same time, as part of the University UNM will also need to operate under the financial constraints that are affecting the whole of the HE sector. However, the Museum’s leading position as a national centre... mean it is well positioned to build on its reputation and recent success in the development and delivery of distinctive and high quality provision.

20 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DISCOURSE AND LEGITIMACY JUDGEMENTS Conflicting Discourses which are not easily bracketed may demand contradictory legitimacy judgements Multiple complimentary Discourses are likely to produce coherent legitimacy judgements providing a consistent “world view” For presentational purposes, multiple Discourses are collapsed or cohabit unproblematically in talk and text to legitimise an organisation to the outside, as in the making of a strategic plan

21 CONFLICTING DISCOURSES for Learning Manager Meaning making is rendered difficult when a given signifier suggests contradictory actions which preclude fixing within a Discourse when making legitimacy judgements: meeting conflicting priorities (attracting students v public face= cognitive dissonance) Professional belief of evaluator moderates instrumental concerns to demonstrate they have relational validity (contributing to life- long learning) but immediate organisational context of PIs demands instrumental legitimising acts transforming relational judgements into instrumental ones thereby conflicting with professional values. Supports Tost’s (2011) conception of instrumental and relational concerns as two separate dimensions: interactive effects in this example, create ambiguity and cognitive dissonance for the evaluator. An entity can be legitimate on one ground (relational concerns) and illegitimate on another (instrumental concerns)

22 COMPLIMENTARY DISCOURSES by the Archivist Clarify organisational purpose and solve problems Caring for collections and making them available for research are synonymous activities: instrumental purpose of UNM unproblematic Perceives collections as unintegrated, particularly Special Collections, suggesting lack of affiliation adopts instrumental solution Problems of organisational identity and work practices are solved using two related Discourses of marketing and management: professionally and practically coherent SupportsTost’s (2011) contention that a follower’s commitment to a social group embedded in the institutional field is a critical moderator of which of the three dimensions is prioritised in determining generalised legitimacy judgements in the evaluative mode.

23 COLLAPSED DISCOURSES by the Director Articulating process of creating a strategic plan concerns questions of group consensus and discounts disagreements and uncertainties Relational legitimacy (knowledge production) unproblematic in relation to instrumental judgements: adopt a set of generic outcome measures Challenging financial climate may curtail relational legitimacy, addressed by adopting “hard targets”. In contrast, textual metamorphosis of away-day promises aspirational set of goals: instrumental, relational and moral legitimising actions coexist unproblematically Texts (strategic plan) able to accommodate different dimensions of legitimacy without eliciting ambiguity or conflict, so long as audience expectations are being met using comprehensible signifiers. Texts for evaluators produced at a distance from real concerns or ambiguities and use of accepted Discourse evokes cognitive legitimacy uncritical of the disparity between fact and fiction


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