The purpose of this research is to investigate the practice of business investment in arts and culture, and provide a better understanding of this phenomenon from a competitive strategy perspective.
Our understanding of the way in which companies build relations with the arts and cultural world is very limited. Many studies have looked at the marketing implications but have not really expanded on the larger impact of these activities on overall company strategy and results. The competitive advantage/competitive strategy framework provides a new perspective on the issue and highlights how the different ways in which businesses collaborate and build relations with the arts can be understood as an integral part of the company's activities. In order to illustrate how arts and culture can impact on companies' competitive advantage we present a series of case studies from Italy.
The case studies presented provide a useful set of tools for other companies, involved in supporting the arts or considering similar activities, to benchmark their activities and the nature of their involvement against some successful international case studies.
The paper is an original attempt to situate a common business practice such as business support of the arts in a larger understanding of our socio‐economic context. Such practices are usually dismissed as simple philanthropy, although they can have a strong connection with the competitive strategy of a company and be a source of competitive advantage, particularly in a new economic era where aesthetic, creative and symbolic values attached to goods and services are becoming increasingly important.
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