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Networks in the shadow of markets and hierarchies : calling the shots in the visual effects industry

Thompson, Paul and Parker, Rachel and Cox, Stephen (2009) Networks in the shadow of markets and hierarchies : calling the shots in the visual effects industry. In: Proceedings of EGOS 2009. European Group for Organizational Studies, Berlin, pp. 1-30.

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The nature and organisation of creative industries and creative work has increasingly been at the centre of academic and policy debates in recent years. The differentiation of this field, economically and spatially, has been tied to more general arguments about the trend towards new trust-based, network forms of organization and economic coordination. In the first part of this paper, we set out, unpack and then critique the conceptual and empirical foundations of such claims. In the main section of the paper, we draw on research into a particular creative sector of the economy - the visual effects component of the film industry - a relatively new though increasingly important global production network. By focusing both on firms and their workers, and drawing on concepts derived from global value chain, labour process and institutional analysis, we aim to offer a more realistic and grounded analysis of creative work within creative industries. The analysis begins with an attempt to explain the power dynamics and patterns of competition and collaboration in inter-firm relations within the Hollywood studio-dominated value chain, before moving to a detailed examination of how the organisation of work and reemployment relations are central to the capturing of value. On the basis of that evidence, we conclude that trust-based networks and collaborative communities play some part in accessing and acquiring leverage in the value chain, but do not explain the core mechanisms of resource allocation, coordination and work organisation.