Article categories: Opinion
February 6th, 2009

What is the future for the economies of developed counties?  Corporations continually exhibit a lack of leadership and strategic thinking when it comes to the type of society and economy we desire (or even they desire). Strategy for them seems to be limited to short-term gains for a company within an industry, disallowing an expansive future not only for those companies, but also for society.  Creative practitioners and the cultural sector have a more encompassing view of what it means to be citizen and have a greater propensity for this larger vision for our future.  We often take this greater vision from creative practitioners for granted and we also tend marginalise the enormous impact that creativity has had economically.  There is an untapped breadth of leadership for the future of society and the economy that is bound up in creative practitioners and the cultural sector.  To release this potential we will have to work differently and not be shy of grasping the opportunity.

As developed countries have moved from a strong manufacturing base to a service economy it has seemed to many that these countries have been giving away real economic power to be left with the façade of economic power; the service industries (Ralston Saul 2005).  The true value of a developed countries economy though, has never been manufacturing, or services, it has been the creative generation of Intellectual Property (IP).   This creation of IP in developed economies has always been significantly linked to pure research.  As Noam Chomsky (2004) points out our greatest economic drivers over the past decade have been built on ground breaking IP.  The market and corporations have been unable to deliver this IP development, instead it has come from state investment in pure research.  The market meeting short-term customer needs is not enough and it is those who pursue pure research that deliver the future in terms of culture, community and commerce (McQueenie 2005).   And, if we see pure research in terms of culture, community and commerce, we cannot limit our thoughts to science, technology, engineering and medical (STEM).   Pure research happens across the humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS).  In the digital age it is beginning to be recognized by business that pure research in HASS is vital to the development of a competitive advantage (Temple 2010) and Artsactive has for a long time highlighted patent outcomes derived from artistic practice.   It is the business that is willing to embrace pure research in all fields that will survive into the future.

The direct link between pure research and economic success in either manufacturing or services often gets lost.  Manufacturing is a powerful economic argument, but without the IP nothing of value can be created, innovation is merely aped and manufacturing gets reduced to a service industry dependent on those that have the IP and the investment to make a product happen.   In those countries where the service economy has taken hold we have seen a service mindset cripple leadership and innovation, the service economy has placed marketing and customer satisfaction in a place it was never intended to be.  Edwards Deming (1996) concept of the customer was about reducing variation, and while sound for evolution of products and processes, great leaps of imagination cannot come from a focus group or a quality circle.  Disruptive technologies (Moore 1999) are the true economic drivers and they require creative leadership.  This type of leadership is not just economic, it is cultural and community focused.  This type of creation comes from envisioning the world, as we want it, looking broadly at what the problems are and then thinking creatively to resolve those problems.  Creative leadership takes the citizen beyond mere consumerism to a place where they can create the society and economy they want.    This impact of the citizen is becoming more apparent as Anderson points out in his article “In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits”(2010).  Extending Anderson’s argument we can see a world where start ups are requiring less investment and this allows for the creation of products that the citizen sees as important to both themselves and their community, while being made commercially viable through access to niche global markets.  This is democratic participation by citizens through the creative development of the commercial.   A vista is opening up where product leadership and creativity is once again important, where it is cheap enough to fail and this in turn opens up where our leaders can come from.  Business and society will require not conductors of an orchestra, as one of the most used creative metaphors in business management would suggest, but those who can play in a jazz band, those that can create and react as a collective to each other, to a plan and the external environment; a group with different roles, but shared goals.  Creative leadership will not come from individuals, but groups who work together with a trans-disciplinary mindset.

This is a more systems based view of society and the role of the citizen emphasises creative practise and the cultural sector embedded economically and politically.  We will see those in the cultural sector working within a team framework that will be much more analogous to the entrepreneurial team.  This is where creative, marketing, business and technical skills are all needed to create a work, product or process.  We are seeing now many artists outsourcing technical aspects of their work.  We seem uncomfortable with this, but to be uncomfortable with this is only a recent phenomenon.  This approach can create great works of art and significant cultural statements; the Renascence can attest to this. The conception of the entrepreneurial team though will reside in a framework of social entrepreneurship.

Social entrepreneurship seems to be made for this new world.  To date it has been embraced mainly by not for profits, but a concept that places mission before money, but never looses site of the money will have a greater resonance with a world over coming “wicked problems” (Rittel & Webber 1973), finding a sustainable balance and attracting the most creative to a cause (business will have to change to be caused based).  Social entrepreneurship will be needed for sustainable economies, but it also gives a strategic approach, where a citizen can pursue the world they want, while still being able to afford that world.

The entrepreneurial team within a framework of social entrepreneurship will be the well from which we will draw the sustainable creative art and cultural activity of the 21st century.  This will be a concept of culture and creativity that is all encompassing across the economy and society, as well as keeping its traditionally influence.  Those creative practitioners who can engage in pure research, while working within a trans-disciplinary team will be the core of this future.  In a world progressively more focused on genuine sustainability and where the structures of international corporations will no longer avail an advantage, the citizen will have an opportunity to create the world as they want it to be.

Gavin Artz
Gavin Artz, ANAT CEO has extensive experience in business management, governance and finance from multinational organisations to not for profits entities.


Anderson, C. 2010, “In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits”.  Wired Magazine, January 25th 2010. -Viewed 25.01.10

Chomsky, N. 2004. “The Militarization of Science and Space”. Technology and Culture Forum (MIT). February 15, 2004. – viewed 03.06.09

Deming, E.W. 1996, “Out of the Crisis”, MIT Press, Massachusetts.

Geoffrey, M.A, 1999, “Crossing the Chasm, Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customer (revised edition)”, HarperCollins Publishers, New York.

McQueenie, J. “3cs- Community, Culture and Commerce”.  Museums Australia Conference (Conference Paper), 1-4 May, 2005.

Ralston Saul, J. 2005, “The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World”, Penguin Australia, Sydney.

Rittel, H. and Webber, M. “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning”. Policy Sciences, Vol. 4, 1973, pp 155-169.

Temple, J. 2010.  “Social science meets computer science at Yahoo”.  San Francisco Chronicle Monday, January 11, 2010. – Viewed 20.11.2010

Article re-published with approval from Missions Models Money

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