Department of Management

Performance management of cultural events: The case of Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017

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This paper investigates the Aarhus 2017 Foundation’s approach to the performance management of the financial aspects of their cultural productions. Performance management includes processes of formulating organizational goals and ensuring that goals are being met in an effective and efficient manner. The Aarhus 2017 Foundation was created in connection to the European Capital of Culture (ECoC) designation of the Danish city, Aarhus. The Foundation is responsible for the application, organization, monitoring, and reporting of the programme. The ECoC event is evaluated by RethinkIMPACTS 2017, which is a partnership between Aarhus University and Aarhus 2017 that invites researchers from various disciplines to investigate and evaluate aspects of the event (RethinkIMPACTS 2017, 2018). The Foundation established a Grant Payment Team (GPT) whose responsibility it was to account for the grants given to the projects that were chosen to be a part of the ECoC event. To provide insight into ‘the Aarhus 2017 way’ of doing performance management, this paper takes its point of departure in this team.
Our analysis shows that the contractual relationship of Aarhus 2017 Foundation to the project managers is one based on trust. They believe in the project managers’ ability, benevolence and integrity both to create projects that meet the artistic objectives outlined and to account for their use of financial resources. Accordingly, they do not, as in conventional thinking of principal-agency theory, perceive the project managers as opportunistic agents, who are motivated to act in the interest of the Aarhus 2017 only if the action is within their self-interest. However, this does not mean that Aarhus 2017 and the GPT employees have blind faith in the project managers. Indeed, they observe and monitor both the cultural content of the projects and the project managers’ use of financial resources.
The Grant Payment Team applies a simple accounting system to detect patterns of deviation. Further, trust is established through an interactive process of questioning and a reflective learning process with the participating projects of the ECoC event in Aarhus. Through the learning process, the actor(s) undergo(es) conceptual development to continuously improve the level of insight and diagnostic certainty in order to establish a pragmatic truth on trust, enabling the actor(s) to deliver more trustworthy accounting reporting.
Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationAarhus
PublisherrethinkIMPACTS 2017
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 2018
SeriesrethinkIMPACTS rapporter. Evaluering og forskning i Aarhus 2017
Number17

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