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Shocks among managers of indigenous art centres in remote Australia

Pi-Shen Seet (Flinders Business School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia)
Janice Jones (Flinders Business School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia)
Tim Acker (School of Management, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia)
Michelle Whittle (Flinders Business School, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 18 May 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the reasons managers of non-Indigenous backgrounds move to, stay in, and leave their positions in Indigenous Art Centres in remote areas of Australia.


This qualitative study used structured in-depth interviews of 21 managers of Indigenous Art Centres to explore their reasons for staying in or leaving their positions.


The study finds that managers are not drawn to remote Art Centres for financial gain, or career advancement. In contrast, a broader range of pull factors beyond the job – in particular, the Indigenous community/environment and personal/family reasons – influence managers to stay or leave the job. However, the reasons for choosing to leave are qualitatively different from reasons given by managers who stay, pulling some managers to stay, whilst pushing other managers to leave. Significantly, shocks, in the form of threatening and frightening situations were also influential in explaining turnover.

Research limitations/implications

This research was limited to Art Centre managers in remote Australia and may lack generalisability in other countries.


The study adds to the few field studies that have investigated issues related to recruitment and retention of managers in the creative arts sector in remote areas. It contributes to the literature by extending push-pull theory to aspects of the entrepreneurial career process, albeit among “accidental entrepreneurs”. In addition, the authors have also incorporated “shocks” as catalysts to understanding career deliberations, and that threatening and frightening situations were especially influential in explaining decisions to stay or go.



The authors would like to acknowledge the student scholarship funding provided as part of this research by the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation (Ninti One) for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies project. The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of Ninti One.


Seet, P.-S., Jones, J., Acker, T. and Whittle, M. (2015), "Shocks among managers of indigenous art centres in remote Australia", Management Decision, Vol. 53 No. 4, pp. 763-785.



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