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The Project Ecology of Advertising: Tasks, Talents and Teams


  • Gernot Grabher


In economic geographic analysis, the 'firm' usually is assumed, at least implicitly, as a coherent and unitary economic actor. More recently, however, the integrity of the firm as the basic analytical unit has been undercut by organizational practices which are built instead around 'projects'. By taking up this theoretical challenge, this paper ventures an empirical investigation in which the project features as the central unit of economic action. However, rather than assuming a substitution of the firm by temporary projects, the paper seeks to explore interdependencies between projects and firms as well as other more traditional 'permanent forms' of organization. Against the empirical background of the London advertising industry, the paper delves into the interrelation between projects on the one hand and, on the other, the agencies, personal ties, localities and corporate networks which provide essential sources for project-based organizing. By consecutively embedding projects into these different organizational and social layers, the paper unfolds a space of collaborative practices for which the term project ecology will be proposed. D'habitude dans l'analyse economico-geographique, on suppose, du moins implicitement, que 'l'entreprise' constitue un agent economique coherent et unitaire. Toujours est-il que, plus recemment, l'integritede l'entrepise comme outil de base analytique a ete sapee par des pratiques organisationnelles fondees plutot sur la notion de 'projets'. En relevant ce defi theorique, cet article cherche a fournir un examen empirique dans lequel le projet existe comme l'unite centrale des mesures economiques prises. Cependant, au lieu de supposer la substitution des projets temporaires a l'entreprise, l'article cherche a examiner les interdependances entre des projets et des entreprises aussi bien que des 'formes permanentes' d'organisation plus traditionnelles. Sur le fond empirique de la publicite a Londres, l'article examine la correlation entre, d'un cote, les projets et, de l'autre cote, les agences, les liens personnels, les endroits et les reseaux d'entreprise qui constituent des sources essentielles d'organisation fondee sur la notion de projets. En ancrant consecutivement des projets dans ces differentes couches organisationnelles et sociales, l'article devoile un espace de pratiques en collaboration appelle l'ecologie de projet . In (wirtschafts-)geographischen Untersuchungen wird das 'Unternehmen' in der Regel, zumindest implizit, als koharenter und einheitlicher okonomischer Akteur begriffen. Diese analytische Integritat des Unternehmens als Grundeinheit wissenschaftlicher Untersuchung wird in jungerer Zeit allerdings durch organisatorische Praktiken in Frage gestellt, deren zentraler Bezugspunkt nicht das Unternehmen sondern das 'Projekt' darstellt. Anstatt allerdings von einer Substitution des 'permanenten' Unternehmens durch 'temporare' Projekte auszugehen, interessiert sich dieses Papier vor allem fur die Interdependenzen zwischen Projekten und Unternehmen sowie anderen permanenten Organisationsformen. Vor dem empirischen Hintergrund der Londoner Werbeindustrie analysiert dieses Papier die organisationalen und sozialen Beziehungen zwischen Projekten einerseits, den Unternehmen, personlichen Netzwerken, dem lokalen Milieu und den ubergeordneten Unternehmensverflechtungen andrerseits. In dem Projekte aufeinander abfolgend in diese unterschiedlichen Kontexte eingebettet werden, umreisst dieses Papier die Konturen des organisationalen und physischen Raumes, in dem sich die temporare Kooperation in Projekten entfaltet. In Abgrenzung von mehr etablierten wirtschaftsgeographischen Begriffen wie Industrial District, innovatives Milieu oder regionales lnnovationssystem wird fur diesen Raum temporarer Projektkooperation der Begriff Projektokologie vorgeschlagen.

Suggested Citation

  • Gernot Grabher, 2002. "The Project Ecology of Advertising: Tasks, Talents and Teams," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 245-262.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:36:y:2002:i:3:p:245-262
    DOI: 10.1080/00343400220122052

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin, Ron, 1999. "The New 'Geographical Turn' in Economics: Some Critical Reflections," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 65-91, January.
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    4. Nooteboom, Bart, 1999. "Innovation, Learning and Industrial Organisation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 127-150, March.
    5. David Dornisch, 2002. "The Evolution of Post-socialist Projects: Trajectory Shift and Transitional Capacity in a Polish Region," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 307-321.
    6. Lilach Nachum & David Keeble, 2000. "Foreign and Indigenous Firms in the Media Cluster of Central London," Working Papers wp154, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    7. John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid, 1991. "Organizational Learning and Communities-of-Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, and Innovation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 40-57, February.
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