Purpose: This study aims to investigate how, in forming their policy towards open data (OD), art museums interact with the OD ecosystems they are part of, comprising internal and external components such as cultural policy, legal frameworks, user groups and economic conditions and incentives. Design/methodology/approach: The authors structure their research as a multiple case study based on three OD ecosystems, each defined by a mid-sized European art museum at its centre. Qualitative analysis of the case studies proceeds from interviews with museum management staff and policy-related agencies in three European countries, in addition to document analysis. Findings: The results of this study suggest that museums are sensitive towards their environments and respond to their ecosystem based on what is communicated within their networks. However, museums are not effective in communicating with their users, limiting the informational interdependence necessary for well-functioning OD ecosystems. EU policy appears to be a driving force along with national financial incentives, though institutional conditions are limiting progress. Advancing the field relies instead on an epistemological shift to understand the museum as part of a larger information network. Originality/value: As the first comparative case study of art museum OD ecosystems that the authors are aware of, the study provides a qualitative analysis of the complex dynamics impacting OD policy within the mid-sized art museum. The authors identify specific dynamics that are thus far restricting further development of the OD ecosystem of the mid-sized European art museum.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors sincerely thank all their informants. They also thank the participants of the cultural economics seminar in the Erasmus University Rotterdam and Andrea Wallace for comments to an earlier version of this text. This work was supported by the Research Council of Norway [project number 247602]. The Programme on the Culture and Media Sector (KULMEDIA).
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