In 2015-2019 we investigated the internal organisational cultures of ten successful high technology clusters in North America and Europe to identify strategies to support the evolution of public service media worldwide. The clusters were located in Boston, Austin and Detroit (USA); Toronto (Canada) in North America. European clusters included London (UK), Warsaw (Poland), Copenhagen (Denmark), Brussels (Belgium), Tallinn (Estonia), and Vienna (Austria).
To answer the question ‘what people, values and processes’ should Public Service Media embody going forward we found there is an urgent need for adaptation. Without internal change there is likely to be a decline in the ability of PSM to survive within the fast-evolving contemporary media and communications production and distribution landscape. A fundamental increase in knowledge-exchange between PSM and newer creative agents is also one way to assist swift change.
150 interviews and 500 photographs from ‘walkabouts’ produced the following findings
The organisational culture, fabric, and location of successful high technology clusters show six highly linked and inter-woven characteristics:
High Technology clusters are aggregations of large, medium and small firms with associated university departments in proximity. Small firm are often located in co-working spaces that may also offer acceleration and incubation facilities. All firms and facilities promote intense knowledge-sharing in contrast to PSM outlets which are largely internally-focused.
There was a lack of entrepreneurialism in PSM, in contrast to all the successful high technology firms. Entrepreneurialism is not necessarily counter to the PSM ethos; firstly, we found many firms within high technology clusters working on data-driven services for the public good. Second, public-private partnerships and/or engagement with Small to medium-sized businesses situated within co-working spaces could assist the growth of an entrepreneurial culture within PSM.
The formal structure of a Corporation as found in most PSM is counter to agile working. High-technology firms have fluid organisational structures and the ability to nuance communication styles to suit different activities. Decision-making is swift, increasing the ability to ‘pivot’ in response to technological, cultural, and societal changes. There is a higher level of autonomy in high technology firms, flatter management structures, and ‘Lean’ approaches to production.
Advanced firms in high technology clusters operate internal communities of practice that on occasion extend to clients or customers to enable feedback loops. Trust relationships between producers and suppliers are seeded in face to face meetings before moving to virtual communications and online working from remote locations. The most important role within co-working spaces and larger firms who foreground partnership working is the Community Manager. Their task is to run networking evenings, working breakfasts and lunches, and to schedule training.
The more successful co-working spaces found in high technology clusters have developed a social science approach to the workplace. Each area on each floor has been carefully designed to support specific activities whether it be a café or bar, reconfigurable desk and project spaces, communication booths, roof gardens, bicycle parks, or ‘chill-out’ spaces. Successful co-working spaces are beginning to measure the ‘density’ of firms within a specific building. A high density potentially indicates a higher level of innovation.
Successful high technology clusters are likely to have access to cheap transport, fast internet, and industrial-age warehouse buildings that can be adapted for co-working. Developed relationships with in-proximity University research departments amplifies the ability to adapt to changing market conditions. Pro-active stimulation by City Hall via the creation of Creative Corridors, Creative Districts, and Media Cities also assist growth. Strategies promoting social interaction in cafes, bars and markets increase knowledge exchange and the formation of trust relationships.
Full report from the study will be launched during the 5thCongress of the Polish Communication Association in Warsaw, September 19-21.09.2019. Online version will be made freely accessible on the project website.
Photo: Anna Nowakowska