ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS IN ORGANISATIONS: FINDING EVIDENCE OF VALUES ADDED

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1 ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS IN ORGANISATIONS: FINDING EVIDENCE OF VALUES ADDED Ariane Berthoin Antal and Anke Strauß

2 Citation: Berthoin Antal, Ariane & Strauß, Anke (2013). Artistic interventions in organisations: Finding evidence of values added. Creative Clash Report. Berlin: WZB. This report is published under the Creative Commons Licence Type nc nd/3.0/ 2 This work programme has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

3 Executive Summary Managers have discovered that it makes a lot of sense to use an innovation to generate innovation. So they are experimenting with the potential of artistic interventions: bringing in people, practices, and products from the arts to help address issues their organizations are facing. Organizations of all sizes and all sectors in Europe have tried artistic interventions for many reasons and with all kinds of art forms. There is no such thing as a typical artistic intervention. A wide variety of impacts have been documented although few studies are explicitly designed as evaluations. Most studies use a mix of methods, primarily qualitative. Many include perspectives from different stakeholders (managers, employees, artists and sometimes intermediary organizations that produce artistic interventions). Although employees are often initially skeptical about engaging with an artist at work, the artist succeeds in engaging them. By the end of an intervention, people almost always report that the experience was positive, even if it sometimes entailed going through difficult phases of irritation and frustration. (Surveys we have conducted in the Basque country found that 100% of managers, employees and artists who have participated would recommend such a project to their peers.) These effects can be found at the individual, group and organisational level, and in fact these levels tend to be interconnected. We have observed that organizational impacts are usually spill over effects from benefits that individuals and groups have gained from an experience with an artistic intervention. The distinction between the categories of impacts and the groups we have put them into is analytically helpful, but it is important to note that in practice the effects are often interrelated and they reinforce each other. There is evidence that artistic interventions can indeed contribute to such Strategic and Operational factors as productivity, efficiency, recruitment and reputation, but this is the area that is mentioned least frequently in the research based publications. Apparently, this is not necessarily what organisation members consider as the most remarkable sphere of impact. Indeed, few companies that have worked with artistic interventions have sought to document such direct impacts. Instead, managers and employees seem to care more about how artistic interventions impact the factors that underpin the potential for innovation. Seeing more and differently and Activation are the strongest groups of categories underpinning processes of learning and change from artistic interventions in organizations. Collaborative ways of working and Personal development are the next two most frequently mentioned. When people discover new ways of seeing and doing things in an artistic intervention, it is an energizing experience that activates the will to act and engage in change. Working collaboratively, rather than simply collectively, is an additional source of potential strength. The power of artistic interventions in organizations resides in the opening of spaces of possibility, which we call interspaces in the formal and informal organization. In these interspaces participants experience new ways of seeing, thinking, and doing things that add value for them personally. Artistic interventions are by definition ephemeral phenomena in organizations. They start and they end, so the responsibility for deriving the benefits for the organization and sustaining the effects lies with managers and the employees. Policymakers are called to nurture the field with programs, policies, funding, as well as by creating opportunities to experience artistic interventions in their own organizations. (See also results of the Creative Clash study on funding arrangements, Vondracek 2013). 3

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5 Content EXECUTIVE SUMMARY...2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY...3 INTRODUCTION...7 ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS COME IN MANY SHAPES AND SIZES AND SO DO THEIR IMPACTS.8 SO WHERE DO WE FIND EVIDENCE?...9 WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ARTISTS ENTER ORGANIZATIONS?...13 EVIDENCE OF IMPACTS OF ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS IN ORGANIZATIONS...14 WHAT ENABLES THESE POSITIVE EFFECTS TO EMERGE IN ORGANIZATIONS?...32 BENEFITTING FROM ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS REQUIRES LEADERSHIP FOLLOW UP...35 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS...37 IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH...38 ACTION POINTS...41 APPENDIX 1: SOURCES REVIEWED...42 APPENDIX 2: SOURCES WITH EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE

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7 Without the artist, we would have done something like every other project. We ve been here for many years, we know the routines. We know how the collective mind works. We needed someone to open the box, even throw the box away. (Berthoin Antal 2013b: 105) Introduction The call for innovations is loud and clear in all European countries, all sectors of the economy, and all kinds of organizations. As Michael Hutter points out, features that were initially associated only with the creative industries have now spread across all other sectors, leading to a paradigmatic shift into the Creative Economy, where the new is normal (2013: 1). Searching for fresh approaches, managers have discovered that it makes a lot of sense to use an innovation to generate innovation. So they are experimenting with the potential of artistic interventions: they are bringing in people, practices, and products from the arts to help address issues their organizations are facing. The emergence of this innovative approach is also fuelled by the curiosity of artists from all disciplines who are looking for different contexts in which to work. A growing number of artists are exploring the possibilities of engaging with people, materials and spaces in non art based organizations sometimes in order to create art in situ, and often with the aspiration to stimulate learning and change. The experience of an artistic intervention can be fun, challenging, provocative, energizing, reassuring, disconcerting, stimulating It is unpredictable yet 100% of the respondents to our survey of participants in artistic interventions produced by conexiones improbables in the Basque country in said that they would recommend such an experience to their peers (Berthoin Antal 2012b). Why? What comes of these interactions? Is there evidence that artistic interventions have beneficial effects, and if so, what kinds? These questions are being raised by policymakers who need to decide whether and how to support this kind of activity. Managers who have not yet tried artistic interventions are asking for evidence that their organizations would benefit before they step out into the unknown territory of bringing artists in to engage with their employees. The intermediary organizations that produce artistic interventions would like to show the kinds of value that their work generates. Some artists have also started to ask academics to help them discover what kinds of traces their activities leave in organizations. Researchers, too, are seeking to understand how artistic interventions affect organizational dynamics and outcomes. The objective of this report is to start responding to these questions by providing an overview over the kinds of impacts that researchers have 7

8 documented after studying artistic interventions in organizations in several European countries. 1 We consider the effects perceived by researchers, managers and employees, as well as the artists involved wherever possible. The focus here is on the effects in organizations of all types and sizes, because that is where resources for generating products and services for society are concentrated. When innovations contribute to transforming organizations, they contribute to transforming society as well. Artistic interventions come in many shapes and sizes and so do their impacts Evaluating the impacts of artistic interventions is an interesting challenge for several reasons: There is no such thing as a typical artistic intervention. Interventions can last for a few hours, days, months, sometimes even years. They can involve one artist or several artists, who may engage with just one or two members of the organization or with hundreds. The artists come from all imaginable domains, and they may or may not use their art form in an intervention their contribution may rather come from their aesthetic ways of knowing and doing, of engaging with people, ideas, artefacts and spaces. The organizational objectives given for undertaking an artistic intervention are also very diverse and often quite broad (e.g., increase employee creativity; expand leadership skills; improve communication in the organization; help develop new product ideas; enhance organizational capacity for innovation; clarify organizational identity). We have not seen any artistic interventions for which the management has defined success criteria in advance as a basis for evaluation. No organization stands still during an artistic intervention, nor does their context the volatility of markets and the socio political and technological changes of the past years affect all organizations. So it is impossible to establish clear mono causal links between an artistic intervention and organizational outputs. Managers who have experienced artistic interventions therefore formulate their observations in terms of effects associated with the intervention. They perceive the intervention having contributed to outcomes in interaction with other factors in the organization at the time. 1 The funding instructions for this Creative Clash project were specifically for compiling evidence from existing publications. We include results of our new research funded by the WZB in this report. 8

9 Artistic interventions are by definition ephemeral phenomena in organizations. They start and they end, so the responsibility for deriving the benefits for the organization and sustaining the effects afterwards lies with the managers and employees. The question can then be posed: who (the artists, the participating employees, the responsible managers?) or what (the intervention, the follow up?) is to be evaluated, and when (immediately after the intervention, weeks or months later)? The literature we reviewed has not resolved this set of questions. We propose some lessons learned about evaluating artistic interventions in the conclusion of this report. So where do we find evidence? Interestingly, companies rarely undertake formal evaluations of the effects of the artistic interventions they have invested in. Instead, our interviews with these managers indicate that they usually trust their own observations and the informal feedback they receive from people in and around their organizations. We combed through the literature and created a data base with various types of publications (see appendix 1 for the sources we reviewed for this study). The data base We examined 268 academic, practitioner and policy publications on arts and business, social impacts of the arts in organizations and society. The publications are predominantly in English and German, but we also reviewed some in French, Spanish, and Swedish. Fortunately, the field has started to interest doctoral and master students, so there are some thorough literature reviews of the field. Although the theses are not designed as evaluation studies, some of them report on results of empirical research in organizations from which we could identify impacts. A growing community of scholars around the world has gained research access to organizations conducting artistic interventions, and they have sometimes initiated experiments that they accompanied as facilitators or observers, generating data that they then analysed and published in books or journals. A few academic studies are designed as evaluations. Other studies have different foci but nevertheless contain evidence of impacts that we could draw on. 9

10 Some intermediaries that produce artistic interventions (e.g., Artists in Labs in Switzerland, Arteconomy in Belgium, Conexiones improbables and disonancias in Spain, INTERACT in the UK, the MAP consortium in the UK, and TILLT in Sweden) or prepare artists for such interventions (e.g., Artlab in Denmark) have invited researchers to follow their projects and publish their results. 2 Practitioners (intermediary organizations, consultants, some artists) have also written about the artistic interventions they have conducted. These publications are interesting and lively, but it is difficult to rely on them for evidence because they tend to be anecdotal and impressionistic and the authors rarely gain the necessary critical distance to evaluate their own work. After reviewing the content of these publications, we found that only 47 (see appendix 2) actually contained research based evidence on the effects of artistic interventions in organizations. Since many of these reported on several cases, our data base includes evidence from 205 organizations of different sizes and in diverse sectors (see figure 1). Figure 1: Sectors with documented artistic interventions 2 For more information on intermediaries that produce artistic interventions in Europe, see Berthoin Antal with Gómez de la Iglesia & Vives Almandoz 2011, Berthoin Antal 2012a, Grzelec & Prata

11 Most of the studies we used for our analysis included input from various stakeholder perspectives (i.e., managers, employees, artists) and the researchers had used a mix of research methods to generate their data (usually interviews, participant observation and some surveys). Some cases were also documented with video recordings and with artefacts generated in the artistic interventions (e.g., art works, illustrations of ideas/activities). The research method for this report We took a grounded approach to review the literature systematically and to develop categories of impacts that artistic interventions have in organizations. In practice this meant that three researchers worked in parallel to identify and categorize the effects of artistic interventions on organisations cited in research based publication, and then cross checked their interpretations to ensure compatibility. Working iteratively, we adjusted the categories with every new text we reviewed. This process allowed us to a) test the suitability of our categories, b) develop a sense for the possibilities and limitations of these categories as well as the boundaries that distinguish one category from the other, c) develop new categories when necessary. Given the great variety of types of artistic interventions, the multiple reasons for which managers initiate them, as well as the diversity of organizations that have engaged in such interventions, it is not surprising that many kinds of impacts are documented in the literature. Our iterative method analysis generated 29 categories of effects for which we have found evidence in studies on artistic interventions in organisations. In order to make these findings more manageable, we organized the categories into 8 groups (see figure 2). 11

12 Figure 2: Documented impacts of artistic interventions 12

13 These effects can be found at the individual, group and organisational level, and in fact these levels tend to be interconnected. We have observed that organizational impacts are usually spill over effects from benefits individuals and groups have reaped from an experience with an artistic intervention. The distinction between the categories of impacts and the groups we have put them into is analytically helpful, but it is important to note that in practice the effects are often interrelated and they reinforce each other. The artistic interventions that managers as well as employees considered successful usually comprised effects across all categories, generating a network of effects that stretches over all groups, connecting different areas and levels of organisational life. In order to understand the kinds of impacts that stakeholders have experienced and that researchers have analysed, it is helpful to follow the artist into the organization. So we offer a brief introduction to the organizational setting before providing a description of the effects for which we found researched based evidence. What happens when artists enter organizations? What intrigues managers who initiate artistic interventions is that artists enter organizations as though they were foreign lands, places where people have their own way of speaking, seeing things and doing things. The artists fresh perspectives and different ways of approaching organizational realities is what managers hope to tap into somehow. The foreignness of each organization is also what intrigues artists. The artists find that they need to explore different facets of an organization: the formal and the informal. The formal organization presented, for instance, in organization charts or in organizational tasks, is considered to be an explicitly coordinated structure that aligns components of an organization with its environment in order to achieve objectives efficiently and effectively. An image used to describe this formal organization is often that of a machine, in which employees appear only in terms of the functions they represent and skills they need to fulfil their tasks. Relations between those functional parts are constituted, controlled and coordinated by a hierarchical structure. Rationality is the basis for making decisions, so in the rhetoric of this official version of an organization, emotions, relationships and the personal lives of individuals do not play a role. Artists quickly sense that behind the officially 13

14 communicated organization there exists a second dimension, the informal organization. It is not mapped by hierarchical structure but formed by employees in accordance with their preferences, values and beliefs. Understanding how organizations tick and what may be blocking employees from achieving their full potential requires engaging with the emotions, personal relationships, and power struggles that drive the informal organization but are usually not part of official rhetoric. The combination of formal and informal dimensions that artists see and interact with when they start an artistic intervention in an organization is represented by the two sided image in Figure 3. The figure shows the movement back and forth between the formal and informal organization, the collective ways of working that develop alongside the structure and the rule bound, institutionalized ways of working. Figure 3: The two sides of organizations: formal and informal 14

15 Evidence of impacts of artistic interventions in organizations Keeping this double sided image of the formal and informal organization in mind, we now turn to describing the effects of artistic interventions. As indicated in figure 2, we have identified 8 groups of impact categories that differed in kind and frequency of times mentioned. 1. Strategic and operational impacts (37) 2. Organisational development (65) 3. Relationships (63) 4. Personal development (88) 5. Collaborative ways of working (89) 6. Artful ways of working (64) 7. Seeing more and differently (117) 8. Activation (114) The list starts with Strategic and operational impacts because they relate to the performance indicators that are often used to assess organizations, hence they are the first kind of impacts that policymakers ask about. The next three groups, Organisational development, Relationships, and Personal development, contain the impact categories that denote changes in individual and collective levels of the organisation and its members. They can be seen as constituting the infrastructure for processes in the organization. Then we present the groups containing two types of processes that artistic interventions are seen to contribute to developing: Collaborative and Artful ways of working. The last two groups, Seeing more and differently and Activation, encompass the impacts that we consider to be catalysts for change in the organization s infrastructure and its processes. We briefly introduce each group of impact categories and provide quotations from the studies to illustrate how they are experienced by stakeholders or observed by the researchers. 1. Strategic and operational impacts The first group of effects that policy makers and managers who have not experienced artistic interventions ask about are the strategic and operational impacts, so we start by addressing them. 15

16 Figure 4: Evidence of strategic and operational impacts of artistic interventions Profitability/Turnover Product/ Service Quality Product Development Efficiency & Productivity Marketing /PR HR Development / Recruiting Strategy In 44% of the research based publications, we found observations about various strategic and operational impacts that the stakeholders or researchers associated with artistic interventions. The items in the first group of categories for which we found evidence include increased turnover; improvements in productivity; greater speed; better service; reductions in stress levels and in absenteeism; stronger branding. The effects are rarely calculated and managers point out that they are usually the result of a combination of factors. A few quotations illustrate these impacts and how they are reported on by stakeholders. A construction manager in Denmark reported: This year we have seen an increase in our turnover of just over 30%. Of course, there may be many factors that explain this improved efficiency. But one of them is that this group works fantastically well together. Firstly, this group is a unit, i.e. if one of them says something, then the rest stand by it this means clear and unambiguous communication. Secondly, if one of them has a problem, then the group have been able to disregard their personal interests to help the person in question. This means that things now get done incredibly quickly. There may have been many small factors that contributed to this effect, but the effect is certainly noticeable. (Artlab 2009: 13). A senior Human Resources manager in Sweden reported: Within a year there was a 24 percent increase in efficiency in the production plant. The manager is quick to point out that there were other processes underway as well, so this result was not due to the artistic 16

17 intervention alone, but he believes that it played an important part, providing lubrication to help succeed in other projects as well, instead of being just another project that consumes resources. (Berthoin Antal 2013b: ) The workplaces where Airis projects have been implemented have seen a reduction in absences due to illness. The cost savings achieved vary between EUR 30,000 and 130,000, depending on the size of organization. (Areblad 2010: 60). A study on artistic interventions in Belgian companies reported that A side effect is that an art project contributes to a company's reputation and brand awareness. The evaluation we did clearly shows that the introduction of art projects is an excellent basis for the stimulation of creativity and innovation in a company. (van den Broeck, Cools and Maenhout 2008: 586). The effects that people wanted to talk about most in the research are not these strategic and operational impacts, as important as they are. Instead they focus attention on the effects that they experienced personally, or that they observed others experiencing. These effects are significant because they are the essential ingredients for achieving the strategic and operational impacts. So we now tilt the perspective of the analysis and the organization back into the foreground by presenting the findings on the seven other groups of impact categories: Relationships, Organizational development, Personal development, Collaborative ways of working, Artful ways of working, Seeing more and differently, and Activation. 17

18 Figure 5: The effects that people wanted to talk about most 2. Relationships Under the heading of relationships we grouped the impacts referring to internal and external relationships. Improvement in internal relationships is one of the most frequently mentioned effects of artistic interventions, with 37% of the texts we analysed mentioning it once or more times. In the course of all kinds of artistic interventions people have the opportunity to interact with other employees, often from different parts of the organization. The activities undertaken together during the artistic interventions often allow people to discover aspects about other employees that tend not to be shown in the normal work mode. People find these discoveries surprising and exciting. They learn new things about their colleagues, sometimes changing their minds about them. They not only expand their social network at work but also develop a stronger team spirit or sense of connectedness beyond their unit. People talk about developing respect and trust for others in the organization as a result of having come to know them in new ways in the context of the artistic intervention. In normal working mode people rarely talk about things that are so unrelated to work, so some managers suddenly saw their colleagues in a completely different light. They were positively surprised by the creative interpretations or unusual expressions that they had not expected from those colleagues The unusual experience left a strong impression on all the participants that will also remain as a connecting 18

19 feature between them in future... (Teichmann 2001: 158 and 174 5; our translation). I don't think art is a miracle cure that can change the situation either. The most positive thing about the project in my opinion was that I could work with people I would never work with otherwise, and I got to know some people better. (van den Broeck, Cools and Maenhout 2008: 582). An HR director in a shipping company in Denmark explained that the artist and the songs enabled us to get to know some other sides of our staff. Esprit de corps is a good phrase, but how do you generate it? You do it by having a positive attitude to your colleagues, by knowing their background, by being a bit interested in them as a person. Singing together opens people up and creates a positive atmosphere. (Artlab 2009: 27). In addition to strengthening internal relationships, in some studies stakeholders report having expanded or enriched their external relationships as an unexpected added value from participating in the artistic intervention. This happens for example when artistic interventions entail seeking ideas from people outside the organization, or when projects involve inviting outsiders in, usually to experience something at the end of the process (e.g., an exhibition). The stakeholders particularly mention that they appreciate how the artistic intervention adds new dimensions to their relations with clients and with the local community because there is more to talk about than just the business itself. They also appreciate the enrichment it offers with family and friends, for whom talking about the artistic intervention is more interesting than the employee s daily work. An engineer in the Basque country reported that the project with the artist had helped the company develop and test methods with which it could explore content and ideas for mobile cultural applications. The experience also showed them how to design creative mechanisms, such as the workshop with young people in the community, and how to connect with organizations in other sectors in the local environment. (Berthoin Antal 2013b: 112). After an artistic intervention in Belgium, a manager observed: The outside world, customers and suppliers, have reacted positively to the project too. (van den Broeck, Cools and Maenhout 2008: 587). 19

20 3. Organizational development This group of impact categories encompasses three closely connected factors: organizational culture, leadership and working climate. In this group, working climate is mentioned in 33% of the research texts we analyzed and thus is ahead of organizational culture (23%) and leadership (20%). These three elements are discussed in two ways in the research: a) artistic interventions can be part of a process to address the values and norms in an organization, to develop leadership, and to improve the working climate; and b) the organizational culture, leadership style and climate can help or hinder the capacity of the organization and its members to benefit from the experience with the artistic intervention. A Danish manager reported: After the workshop, we defined some rules relating to presence, expectations and conflict resolution. So now we are working according to collectively agreed rules that enable us to continue to focus on recognition of each other. It doesn t cost a great deal and there is much to be gained. (Artlab 2009: 9). Managers in British organizations observed: The involvement of all our staff has created the beginnings of true inclusivity. We operate more intuitively and impulsively. (Robinson and Dix 2007: 28). The previous examples show that artistic interventions can trigger quite significant changes in organizational culture, but in other cases the stakeholders point out that positive impacts can be blocked by the dominant culture. A German case study found that: All the respondents were skeptical that their colleagues would undertake any changes in behavior, even if the theater experience stimulated reflection. Their doubts were less about the potential of the theater piece itself than in the leadership culture of the company. 'I do think that some people changed their way of thinking. But we do not see the willingness of management to undertake any real change. And as long as that it not visible, people simply do not see any point in making changes themselves.' (Teichmann 2001: 240; our translation). Leadership development is an explicit objective of some artistic interventions, for example in workshops dedicated to experiencing different approaches to leadership in music and theater. A report found: The primary conclusion of this study is that the arts can be a valuable resource for conceptualizing leadership challenges in new ways, which is the hallmark of creative thinking and is based on a set of learning conditions: confronting leader s cognitive traps, emphasizing personal as well as professional dimensions of leader 20

ARTISTIC INTERVENTIONS IN ORGANISATIONS: FINDING EVIDENCE OF VALUES ADDED

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