The Challengers of public cultural centres
Institutional theory has undergone major development in recent decades, while resource dependence theory has remained essentially unchanged since its inception in 1978. This study examines the associations of these two theories as well as organisational performance in the context of cultural centres in Finland. Few studies have attempted to empirically determine the effects of resource scarcity on institutional pressures. In addition to the novelty of combining these two theories, this thesis addresses this gap in the literature by empirically examining how and why resource dependence influences organisations’ strategic responses.
Using a mixed methods approach, this research involved in-depth semi-structured interviews and then surveys in a later stage. A total of 20 interviews was conducted at four private cultural centres in Finland, while quantitative data (i.e. surveys) were gathered from 106 cultural centres. Thematic analysis was applied to the qualitative data to investigate the factors that influence the practices of private cultural centres. Next, the quantitative data were reviewed to confirm or reject the assumptions from the qualitative data. A broad range of participants was selected to generate generalisable, reliable, valid and meaningful data and conclusions.
The results support the conclusion that private cultural centres do not passively adhere to institutional constraints. Rather, they selectively choose strategic responses that balance conflicting institutional pressures and their own interests and goals. Additionally, the more dependent a cultural centre is on a single revenue source—in this study, the municipality—the greater conformity it displays. Likewise, the more dependent a cultural centre is on diverse revenue sources, the greater diversity it displays.
Through this theoretical discussion and empirical assessment, this research contributes to an expanded, more accurate understanding of how organisations can engage in sustainability practices that improve performance. This study also fills the research gap on Finnish cultural centres and identifies factors that affect the adoption of organisational strategic responses.
Finally, this study makes recommendations for future research and implications for the practice of cultural centres, suggesting how resource dependence alters organisational strategic responses.