On the creative ecosystem: investigating ecosystem approaches through the creative sector

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The creative industries are a politically and economically attractive sector, characterised recently by high-growth policy initiatives. Arguably there has been limited consideration by the policy environment of the driving values of the micro-scale organisations that dominate the sector, partly because of the way the industry is mapped and measured in policy circles. Recent cultural policy debates attempting to reflect a broader range of values and inputs have led to the concept of the ‘creative ecosystem’. Whilst 'ecosystem’ is popular both as a metaphor and emerging framework for regional growth and innovation, to date it has not been used as a reliable tool to map any industry sector. This thesis therefore investigates the concept of the creative ecosystem by applying a literature-based framework to UK creative industries data. It does so to ask whether such an approach can improve both our understanding of the sector and the support for businesses within it.The thesis develops an original theoretical and investigative framework based on Moore’s (1996) business ecosystem, Isenberg’s (2011) entrepreneurial ecosystem and Holden’s (2015) cultural ecology approaches. It applies this framework to generate three empirical perspectives on the creative ecosystem: 
    * a ‘top-down’ mapping using secondary data,
    * sector stakeholder perspectives using primary data from interviews, and
    * micro-enterprise perspectives from a series of in-depth case studies. 
    Attempts to consolidate the various approaches to ecosystem have been limited, both in the creative sector and in broader business and entrepreneurship literature. The study finds that each approach provides a partial understanding, but also finds little evidence to support a combined meta-ecosystem model. Asa specific mapping tool there is work required across the current multiplicity of approaches to reach a shared definition and practical application. However, this investigation makes a significant and detailed contribution to understanding the breadth and relational nature of ecosystem approaches, the creative ecosystem as a construct, and the value this holds for policy to support creative micro-enterprises.
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University

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