The Scottish national screen agency : justifications of worth
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This thesis examines the role of the former national screen agency in Scotland, which was in charge of distributing public funds for screen activity between 1997 and 2010. It examines how external factors such as cultural policy and internal factors such as individual approaches to film funding, affected the agency’s perception and remit. The study draws on the institutional logics perspective (Thornton et al., 2012) to frame the interplay of two competing imperatives, one commercial, one creative, affecting the creative industries in Scotland and Scottish Screen’s activities more specifically. However, it goes beyond this duality by examining more nuanced factors which significantly affected the organisation’s trajectory and remit. Taking into account the predominant logic(s) throughout Scottish Screen’s history and focusing on organisational responses during moments of transition or conflict, I use the analytical framework developed by Boltanski and Thévenot in On Justification (2006) to examine criticisms, justifications, and attempts at compromising expressed through official and non-official channels. The thesis outlines how opinions and decisions stemming from disparate views of what is “worthy” affected the agency’s activity and funding decisions, as well as the dialogue with its stakeholders. The conclusions extracted from my findings inform existing literature on responses to plurality and challenge some claims made by institutional logic scholars: the first conclusion is that lack of conflict between logics does not necessarily translate into lack organisational conflict, as the latter often derives from different orders of worth which override the commercial-creative logic divide and are incompatible amongst themselves. The second conclusion, related to the first one, is that stability may be enhanced (at least temporarily) in a professional environment dominated by a plurality of logics as long as there is compatibility amongst the orders of worth set forth in pursuit of organisational goals. A third conclusion is related to the examination of some contributions to the orders of worth perspective and the study of plurality and instability in organisational practices, notably Boltanski and Chiapello’s (2007) depiction of a seventh world of worth called the ‘projective city’ (underpinned by the higher value of activity aimed at creating or maintaining ever-changing networks), and David Stark’s (2009) study of plurality and ambiguity management in organisations. My findings suggest that organisational models based on pervasive, horizontal networks capable of transgressing traditional hierarchical structures were never fully deployed in Scottish Screen - traces of these practices are identified, but, overall, actors defended more traditional organisational scripts.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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