Why do some theatres innovate more than others? An empirical analysis

Paul Dimaggio, Kristen Stenberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The authors develop a measure of the 'innovativeness' of the repertoires of U.S. resident nonprofit theatres and test hypotheses about the relationship between environmental and organizational factors and innovation. Access to potential patrons rich in cultural capital appears to make theatre repertoires more innovate, while dependence upon the market (as opposed to grants and contributions) is associated with greater conformity of repertoire. Theatres with smaller budgets to maintain, fewer seats to fill, and less need for earned income are less conformist in their programming than are large theatres with capacious houses and high rates of earned income. Holding size and dependence on earned income constant, there is no evidence that age, structural differentiation, or the presence of subscription audiences-all associated with 'institutionalization' - have either a negative or a positive impact on innovation. New York theatres innovate more, and are less negatively affected by growth and the market, than theatres elsewhere in the U.S. It is suggested that artistic innovation has come to depend overwhelmingly on the behavior of formal organizations and that, consequently, we must understand the principles that govern the relationship of such organizations to their economic and social environments in order to understand artistic change.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)107-122
    Number of pages16
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - Apr 1985

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Language and Linguistics
    • Communication
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Linguistics and Language
    • Literature and Literary Theory


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