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Ownership, organization structure and public service provision: the case of museums


  • Enrico E. Bertacchini

    (University of Turin)

  • Chiara Dalle Nogare

    () (University of Brescia)

  • Raffaele Scuderi

    (Kore University of Enna)


Abstract This article provides an empirical investigation of the effects of the ownership and organizational structure on the performance of cultural institutions. More specifically, we consider how museums are effective in their function of disseminating culture to audiences and contributing to the local development. By exploiting a unique data set based on the 2011 census of Italian museums, we develop performance indices of accessibility, visitors’ experience, web visibility and promotion of the local cultural context. Using count data models, we regress such measures on the type of organization. We distinguish between governmental museums, public museums whose administration is either outsourced or has financial autonomy and private museums. We control for the most salient characteristics of a museum, competition pressure and some proxies of potential audience. Our evidence shows that private museums, public museums with financial autonomy and outsourced museums outperform public museums run as sub-units of culture departments. This paper contributes to the cultural economics and public policy and administration literature by adding insights into the effect of outsourcing and administrative decentralization in the public cultural sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Enrico E. Bertacchini & Chiara Dalle Nogare & Raffaele Scuderi, 2018. "Ownership, organization structure and public service provision: the case of museums," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 42(4), pages 619-643, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jculte:v:42:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10824-018-9321-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s10824-018-9321-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carmen Camarero & Mª Garrido & Eva Vicente, 2011. "How cultural organizations’ size and funding influence innovation and performance: the case of museums," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 35(4), pages 247-266, November.
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    5. Roberto Cellini & Tiziana Cuccia, 2013. "Museum and monument attendance and tourism flow: a time series analysis approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(24), pages 3473-3482, August.
    6. Antonella Basso & Stefania Funari, 2004. "A Quantitative Approach to Evaluate the Relative Efficiency of Museums," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 28(3), pages 195-216, August.
    7. Henry Hansmann, 1981. "Nonprofit Enterprise in the Performing Arts," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 341-361, Autumn.
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    9. Giacomo Pignataro, 2011. "Performance Indicators," Chapters, in: Ruth Towse (ed.), A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, chapter 46, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. J. Schuster, 1998. "Neither Public Nor Private: The Hybridization of Museums," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 22(2), pages 127-150, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Calogero Guccio & Marco Martorana & Isidoro Mazza & Giacomo Pignataro & Ilde Rizzo, 2020. "An analysis of the efficiency of Italian museums using a generalised conditional efficiency model," ACEI Working Paper Series AWP-06-2020, Association for Cultural Economics International, revised Feb 2020.
    2. Izabela Luiza Pop & Anca Borza & Anuța Buiga & Diana Ighian & Rita Toader, 2019. "Achieving Cultural Sustainability in Museums: A Step Toward Sustainable Development," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(4), pages 1-22, February.
    3. María José Barrio-Tellado & Luis César Herrero-Prieto, 2019. "Modelling museum efficiency in producing inter-reliant outputs," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 43(3), pages 485-512, September.
    4. Héctor Moreno-Mendoza & Agustín Santana-Talavera & Carmelo J. León, 2019. "Stakeholders of Cultural Heritage as Responsible Institutional Tourism Product Management Agents," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(19), pages 1-14, September.
    5. Cellini, Roberto & Cuccia, Tiziana & Lisi, Domenico, 2019. "Spatial dependence in museum services: An analysis of the Italian case," MPRA Paper 92093, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Public sector performance; Outsourcing; Decentralization; Museums;

    JEL classification:

    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods


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