ArticlePDF Available


Strategic management is a familiar concept in for-profit organisations but is relatively new to museums. This paper presents and discusses a model of strategic management for visitor-oriented museums that aims to be more comprehensive than current approaches. It shows how museums can overcome the tension between the strategic demand to develop visitor-oriented museum services and the duties and social mandate of museums as public institutions that are defined by cultural policy—enabling access to cultural heritage, promoting broad cultural participation and providing informal education. Visitor-oriented strategic museum management is concerned with attracting a variety of visitors as well as the development of museum services that are appropriate to diverse museum audiences. The model presented here emphasises the comprehensive strategic management concept. Audience research and evaluation are shown to be valuable analytic and revision tools for strategic management in visitor-oriented museums.
The International Journal of Cultural Policy, 2003 Vol. 9 (1), pp. 95-108
1 Routledge
^ Tiytor&FnncisCiaup
A change of focus
Eva M. Reussner*
Arts and Entertainment Management, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
Abstract: Strategic management is a familiar concept in for-prot organisations but is relatively new to museums. This
paper presents and discusses a model of strategic management for visitor-oriented museums that aims to be more
comprehensive than current approaches. It shows how museums can overcome the tension between the strategic
demand to develop visitor-oriented museum services and the duties and social mandate of museums as pubhc
institutions that are defined by cultural pohcy—enabling access to cultural heritage, promoting broad cultural
participation and providing informal education. Visitor-oriented strategic museum management is concerned with
attracting a variety of visitors as well as the development of museum services that are appropriate to diverse museum
audiences. The model presented here emphasises the comprehensive strategic management concept. Audience research
and evaluation are shown to be valuable analytic and revision tools for strategic management in visitor-oriented
Keywords: Cultural poUcy; Non-profit museumsi Strategic management; Visitor-orientation; Audience research;
As PUBLIC institutions, non-profit museums need to act in line with cultural policy guidelines.
There are a number of museum-related cultural policy guidelines that can be considered as
general principles applicable to museums in the Western world. For example, enabling access
for and use by broad and diverse audiences as well as the facilitation of learning are generally
acknowledged as two important museum functions {c.f. Hooper-Greenhill, 1994; Falk and
Dierking, 1995; WeU, 1997; Sandell, 1998; Hooper-Greenhill, 1999; Falk and Dierking, 2000;
Bradburne, 2001). Beyond their common ground, cultural poUcies certainly have a history and
characteristics specific to their country. In Germany, for example, museum policies are
influenced by the democratic demand "Kultur für alle!"—"Culture for Everyone!"—that, in
ISSN 1028-6632 print/ISSN 1477-2833 online © 2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/1028663032000089868
the seventies, promoted the idea of a broad cultural participation to overcome limitations that
are based on class differences (DFG, 1974). Linked to this idea of enabling access for a
representative part of society is the concept of cultural education that regards museums as places
of informal learning (Nuissl, 1987). Today, the demand to be responsive to the public is stiU the
imperative. In 1995, the German assembly of the federal ministers of culture and education
emphasised that museums need to further open up to the public (KMK, 1996). In the same
document, the educational purpose of museums that first came up in 1969 is underUned as
being still an important museum function in the nineties (KMK, 1996).
Extending the perspective on museum policies to the international context inevitably
highhghts issues related to the interUnked processes of globalisation and firagmentation. In this
context, showcasing cultural diversity, providing spaces for cultural expression and for
experiencing identity as well as gaining knowledge and understanding of other cultures are
increasingly relevant (UNESCO, 1998). The expected humanistic benefits of cultural
participation and expression are underlined in particular in relation to minorities and
indigenous peoples (Kahn, 1997; UNESCO, 1998). Australia and New Zealand are excellent
examples in recognition of these principles: The Council of the Austrahan Museums
Association developed special poUcies in relation to Austrahan museums and their indigenous
peoples (1993), and the broad space dedicated to Maori culture at the National Museum of
New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is a clear poUtical demonstration of the recognition of
New Zealand's "first peoples".
Cultural pohcy influences the ways in which museums shape society and community
relationships. However, these guidelines are not easy to implement in an age of economic
restraint and growing competition in the leisure sector (Ambrose and Runyard, 1991; Koder
and Andreasen, 1996; Landschaftsverband Rheinland, 1997; Klein, 2001). Museums are being
challenged to attract visitors together with maintaining their financial viabiUty, without
compromising their obUgations to society. Not least, fulfilling their duties as pubhc institutions
is vital for museums in order to legitimate public funding. As a consequence, museums
experience a tension between the strategic demand to develop visitor-oriented museum
services and the political demand to fulfil their social mandate as public institutions.
As a possible approach to deal with these challenges, museums have welcomed the concept of
strategic management, derived from the for-profit sector. In general, strategic management is
concerned with ensuring success in the long term, dealing with changing contextual
conditions and competition (Thompson and Strickland, 1993; Hill and Jones, 1995). Since the
nineties, there have been efforts to transfer this concept of strategic management to museums of
all kinds (cf. Kovach, 1989). Strategic management is expected to support museums in bringing
their mission into action, and thus proving that museums make a difference. But the ways in
which strategic management has been translated to the museum sector appear inappropriate for
the visitor-oriented museum.
Related Work
A review of publications shows three kinds of approaches to strategic management for museums
and non-profit organisations in general. First, some authors focus on business aspects that are
without doubt highly relevant for museums (Kovach, 1989; Oster, 1995). But a business-
focused approach makes it difcult to incorporate the humanistic duties of
museums. Second, some pubUcations are characterised by an emphasis on strategic planning
(Ambrose and Runyard, 1991; Denis, Langley and Lozeau, 1993; Moulton, 1997; Kawashima,
1998). Notwithstanding the central role of strategic planning, this approach lacks a
comprehensive view of strategic management, that is, giving attention to the functions vital for
an effective preparation and implementation of strategies. The third group of publications
promotes a focus on external marketing (Koder and Andreasen, 1996; Koder and Koder, 1998;
2000). As it emphasises the external relations of museums, this approach is very close to a
visitor-related concept of strategic museum management. Nevertheless, it needs to be
recognised that the demand for broad cultural participation not only requires an increase in
visitor numbers, but also an increased variety of museum audiences. At the same time, the
educational mission of museums and the commitment to visitor-orientation require an internal
focus on the visitor and the visiting experience itself.
An Alternative Approach
By focusing on business aspects, strategic planning or external marketing, publications on
strategic management for non-profit organisations, cultural institutions or museums lack a
comprehensive concept of strategic management suitable for visitor-oriented museums.
Considering these shortcomings, this paper recommends a change in focus in strategic museum
A strategic concept for visitor-oriented museums needs to be more comprehensive in three
respects: First, a comprehensive strategic concept for museums needs to be in line with the
guidelines of cultural policy and the duties of museums as public institutions. Strategic
management can only be appropriate and valuable for visitor-oriented museums on condition
that it pays tribute to the educational purpose and social mandate of museums: that is, providing
access, enabling social inclusion and promoting cultural diversity. Second, the principles of
visitor-orientation need to be considered to make a museum visit attractive and worthwhile.
And nally, it is questioned whether strategic considerations, if they are solely relevant in
planning and marketing, have the impact on overall museum work that they could and should
have. Museum work as a whole has to be committed to the overall strategic direction.
The contribution of this paper is two-fold. First, it extends strategic management into the
context of non-prot museums, incorporating the basic museum guidelines found in Western
cultural policy. Second, it presents a model for a more comprehensive strategic museum
management process. In particular, the paper takes a closer look at the ways in which strategic
management can be valuable for visitor-oriented museums.
This paper is organised as follows: First, a model of the strategic management process for
non-prot museums is described. To interpret this model for visitor-oriented museums, the
strategic implications of visitor-orientation are outlined before describing strategic museum
management in this special context. Within that frame, audience research and evaluation are
assessed as tools for strategic museum management.
From Strategic Planning to Strategic Management
As a rst step towards comprehensive strategic museum management, this paper advocates a
shift similar to that which took place in private business during the seventies: from strategic
FIGURE 1 Basic elements of the strategic museum management process.
planning to strategic management. With this move, the focus changed from an emphasis on long-
term planning to goal-oriented, but exible and comprehensive strategic management. The
concept of strategic planning originally emerged in the sixties in the for-prot sector (Staehle,
1999). Strategic planning is concerned with long-term planning of the organisation's
development, based on information on the organisation's contextual conditions and relevant
trends and developments. Driven by the insight in the seventies that strategic orientation should
not be narrowed to the single planning function, a change of focus occurred: Now, the concept
of a strategic management encompassing all functions and levels of management broadened
perspectives (Kreilkamp, 1987; Johnson and Scholes, 1997; Staehle, 1999). This shift needs to
be followed by museums in order to ensure a comprehensive strategic perspective on museum
work: strategic issues have to become relevant in all organisational levels of a museum.
Comprehensive Strategic Museum Management
The principles and common tools of for-prot strategic management need to be interpreted
according to the specic conditions of non-prot museums. As a second step towards a more
comprehensive strategic management concept, it is suggested to consider the duties of
museums as pubUc institutions, related to the guidelines of cultural policy, and combine them
with the basic principles of strategic management, as found in strategic management
pubhcations (Kreilkamp, 1987; Thompson and Strickland, 1993; Harrison and John, 1994; Hill
and Jones, 1995; Johnson and Scholes, 1997; Mintzberg, Quinn and Ghoshal, 1999). Thus,
strategic museum management consists of organising, planning, leading and monitoring all
areas of museum work, such as collections, research, exhibitions, pubUc programs,
administration and marketing, in view of the museum's primary goals. The museum's goals
are argued as being dened by cultural policy and the challenges represented by competition
and changing contextual conditions. In order for museums to cope vvnth the challenges they
face, strategic museum management requires self-assessment, competitor analysis and
monitoring of strategically relevant developments in the museum's context. On that basis,
strategic museum management provides goal-directed, value-guided and iture-oriented
These principles form the basic elements of a comprehensive model of the strategic museum
management process proposed as follows.
The model shown in Fig. 1 represents a synthesis derived from pubhcations on strategic
management, with particular references to Kreilkamp (1987: 61), Kotler and Andreasen (1996:
65) and Steinmann and Schreyögg (1997: 155). While it is acknowledged that a model
necessarily is an abstraction from reaUty, showing an ideal process rarely found in practice, it
nevertheless emphasises the basic principles that are considered as most important. The strategic
management process model presented here aims to serve this purpose. It shows the museum in
its context, which includes the museum field, the cultural and leisure sector, the community
context and the national and legislative fiiamework. The model emphasises the relations
between the different stages of the strategic management process. Strategic management
imphes an iterative process with a number of feedback cycles. Next, a short description of the
different stages and their interrelations is given, incorporating the specic conditions of non
prot museums (c.f. Kreilkamp, 1987; Thompson and Strickland, 1993; Harrison and John,
1994; Hill and Jones, 1995; Johnson and Scholes, 1997 and Steinmann and Schreyögg, 1997).
In discussing the model and its application, the interrelations between each stage are identied
by lower case letters.
Usually, the starting point of the strategic management process is goal-development and goal-
definition. It serves to clarify and determine the major goals that are to become the focus of the
overall strategic direction. Through goal-development, preliminary goals are laid down and
formulated in a more concrete way.
In determining their central goals, museums are bound to prescribed functions and
guidelines. The museums' purposes are to collect, preserve and investigate objects that are of
cultural relevance, to provide access to their collections in a way that enables the cultural
participation of a wide and diverse section of the population, including the provision of access
and representation for minorities, and to facihtate informal education. The determination of
goals is also influenced by values and standards such as professionaHsm, the wish to contribute
to a better understanding of culture and society, a commitment to lifelong learning and respect
of the visitors' needs and interests. Additionally, museums need to take into consideration the
interests of stakeholders and the services of competitors within the leisure and cultural industry
in general and the museum field in particular. Because museums are not independent in
defining their aims and purposes, in the model, a reference to the museum's context is shown.
Within the rame of given purposes and guidelines, museums translate these general goals into
concrete, more operational objectives for the specic museum and have to decide on strategic
priorities that will form the major focus of the museum's effort. During goal-development,
contextual information is required. Strategic analysis provides this information.
Strategic Analysis
Strategic analysis helps museums clarify their strategic goals and provides information for
planning. Apart x)m analysing the museum context, strategic analysis represents a reective
step on the current status of the museum and its position within this context. Therefore,
strategic analysis consists of an organisational analysis to identify strengths and weaknesses of the
museum, and an environmental analysis to learn about the threats and opportunities in the
m u s e u m c o n t e x t .
The internal analysis shows which factors a museum can rely on to achieve its strategic goals:
for example, certain knowledge of its staff, certain qualities of its collection, or its pubHc image.
But it is equally important to nd out weaknesses threatening or at least diminishing the success
of museum work. Examples for areas of external analysis are: the competitive situation within
the museum eld, demographic trends and leisure preferences. The focus of strategic analysis is
defmed by the strategic goals. At the same time, strategic analysis helps to clarify these strategic
goals in showing which ones are recommendable, achievable and appropriate to the museum
(a). Strategic analysis helps museums set priorities in relation to perceived gaps or positions of
strength. Furthermore, the data gained through strategic analysis informs the planning of
strategic programs.
Strategic Orientation
Refined goak and the findings of the strategic analysis determine the strategic orientation,
which serves as a guideline for museum work. Strategic orientation represents the guiding
principle that supports museums in achieving previously defined goals. As value-guided, goal-
referenced and future-oriented thinking, strategic orientation gives museum work a direction.
To enable successful museum work and a shared strategic orientation, attention should be given
to the development of consensus on and support for major goals, values and guiding principles,
expounded in the museum's mission statement.
Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is considered as the core stage of strategic management (cf. Kreilkamp, 1987: 25).
Strategic planning produces strategies that are designed to achieve the previously dened major
goals. It distinguishes between overall corporate strategy and the number of substrategies that
translate the general strategy into more concrete activities that complement each other, while being
adjusted to the different operational areas of museum work. If, for example, it is a major goal to
open the museum for senior audiences, this is reflected in the goals set for exhibition development,
public programming and marketing activities. Strategic planning focuses on the strategic goals,
while at the same time building on the ndings ofstrategic analysis (b) and, if necessary, demanding
additional information om strategic control, as plans progress (Q. As strategic plans generally are
designed for longer periods, it is important to leave room for flexibility in order to react on
unforeseen events and developments that make a modication of strategies necessary.
After formulation (c), the strategies need to be implemented in museum practice (d). Through
implementation of the strategies, the programmes designed to achieve the major goals of the
museum are brought into action (e). Extending the previous example, now, the new marketing
campaign focusing on seniors is launched, guided exhibition tours designed for seniors are
offered and special offers at the museum shop are introduced. It is the purpose of strategic
management to ensure that the originally intended strategy is brought into action. To this end,
strategic control fulls an important task.
Strategic Control
Contrary to publications locating strategic control at the final stage of the strategic management
process, strategic control here is conceived as a process accompanying and supporting the other
stages of strategic management (() (cf. Steinmann and Schreyögg, 1997:157). On the one hand,
the function of strategic control is to provide further information, if needed, in order to support
strategic planning. On the other hand, it has to review designed strategies, to supervise their
implementation and to initiate modifications in programmes in order to ensure the
achievement of strategic goals. Finally, in a more narrow sense, strategic control is understood as
the final judgement of the measures' progress and success in the hght of major goals (g). This
can be done either for a single activity or for a whole set of programmes. As a consequence,
those findings indicate the need for a reorientation of goals as well as for modifications in
General management functions such as leadership and communication are important to
coordinate and align the different stages of the strategic management process and, above all, to
develop a widespread acceptance of strategic thinking throughout museum work. The basic
principles of strategic management can be appUed to diverse museum priorities, such as visitor-
orientation. Before the strategic management model is translated to visitor-oriented museums,
the strategic implications of visitor-orientation are examined.
S T R A T E G I C I M P L I C A T I O N S O F V I S I T O R - O R I E N T A T I O N
Nowadays, many museums consider visitor-orientation as the central principle of their work
(cf. Hooper-Greenhill, 1994; KGSt, 1989; Landschaffeverband Rheinland, 1997; Weil, 1997;
Günter, 1998; Graf, 1999; Klein, 2001). This development shows both a change in the
understanding of the role of museums and a change in attitude of museums towards their users.
Since the 19th century, museums have undergone an evolution from the private
"Wunderkammer" (cabinet of curiosities), only open to a tiny and chosen audience, to institutions
open to the public. Weil predicts that the relation between museums and the public will reach a state
in which "it will be the public, not the museum, that occupies the superior position. The museum's
role will have been transformed ftom one of mastery to one of service" (Weil, 1997: 257).
Visitor-oriented museums acknowledge that paying attention to preconditions, needs and
interests of visitors is important for the success of museum work. Only by considering their
audiences' point of view, can museums gain the interest of a variety of visitors and offer them a
valuable, enjoyable and at the same time educational experience.
Museums that aim to fulfil their mandate and at the same time wish to be attractive need to
bring together the museum perspective on visitors with the visitor perspective on museums.
The museum perspective on visitors is influenced by cultural policy in terms of cultural
participation, social inclusion and informal education, notwithstanding the commercial aspects.
The visitor perspective on museums is shaped by having multiple choices of leisure and cultural
attractions and the expectation of an enjoyable, satisfying and valuable museum experience
(cf. Doering, 1999). Whereas the museum perspective determines the criteria for effectiveness
and success of museum work in the long term, the visitor perspective shows that museums
operate in a competitive context. Museums need to demonstrate value in relation to the needs
and expectations of their audiences and services provided by other cultural or leisure attractions.
This means that even visitor-orientation is an area where strategic thinking is necessary.
To achieve visitor-related goals in a competitive environment, museums need to pay
at t ent ion to two di m ens ion s of vi s it o r-o rie n ta t ion :
(a) fi-om an external perspective, museums need to develop attracting power, in order to
enable access and cultural participation and to cope with competition,
(b) firom an internal perspective, museums need to ensure that their services are appropriate to
visitors, in order to enable an enjoyable and educational museum experience.
Being attractive and at the same time appropriate to their audiences are vital factors for long-
term museum success. Because of their central role, these goals can be considered strategic goals
of visitor-oriented museums. The following section discusses how strategic management can
support museums in a visitor-focused approach to museum work.
In the last section it was argued that, in order to remain or become relevant to a broad public,
museums need to focus strategically on the needs, interests and preconditions of their
audiences. In visitor-oriented museums, strategic museum management is concerned with
audience development in an external perspective and, in an internal perspective, with visitor-
focused product development, ranging from exhibitions to visitor programmes and service
E x t e r n a l V i s i t o r F o c u s
A strategic focus on visitors puts audience development among the primary aims of museums.
Audience development impUes maintaining the core audience, building a broader audience
base, attracting diverse audiences and building relationships with the community. But the limits
of audience development need to be acknowledged. Treinen (1996) has found that the group of
potential visitors that can be motivated to visit a museum is rather small: between 15 and
20% of the adult urban population. Museums should be clear about their real visitor potential
and try to build on relationships with actual visitors who can be encouraged to make multiple
Having determined the two major goals of audience development—^broadening the
audience base and encouraging repeat visitation—strategic planning then allows the design of
effective audience development strategies. In order to develop marketing activities,
information is needed from strategic analysis on the actual and the potential audiences, their
preferences and characteristics, and on the audiences and services of competing museums. This
enables museums to determine their potential audiences and gives indications for strategies to
reach out to certain target groups and how to gain distinctiveness in comparison to competing
Actual visitors are the most powerful means of advertising as they promote the museum by
word-of-mouth (Koder and Andreasen, 1996: 43). But repeat visitation and recommendations
depend on the perceived value of the museum experience (cf. Thompson and Strickland, 1993:
109). In order to retain and enlarge their attracting power, museums not only rely on an
effective marketing campaign, but they need to offer a high-quahty museum experience.
A good marketing campaign is of no use if the museum experience does not meet the visitor's
expectations. Hence, the internal focus on visitors plays an essential role for the success of
m u s e u m w o r k .
I n t e r n a l V i s i t o r F o c u s
Paying attention to the museum audience is a precondition for an enjoyable museum
experience as well as for the fulfilment of the museum's educational purpose. On the one hand,
one has to acknowledge that a museum visit is a leisure experience and a social experience (Falk
and Dierking, 1992). This means, museums need to develop strategies that create interest in
their subjects and services, enable recreation and social interaction. In addition, the
contribution of quality service, good orientation and a welcoming atmosphere to a satisfying
visit should not be neglected. To initiate engagement with exhibits and occupation with certain
subjects, museums need to take into consideration the conditions under which informal
learning is possible and encouraged and examine the effectiveness of exhibits. The internal
visitor-focus demands museum services appropriate to visitors by acknowledging their motives,
interests and needs in visitor-related strategies of museum work.
Being appropriate to a diverse museum audience is not easy; and it cannot be fiilfilled
completely. But instead of designing museum services for a stereotyped audience, museums
need to create a broad range of programs aimed at specific subgroups of visitors, e.g. children,
or subaudiences defined through sophisticated attitudinal and lifestyle segmentation methods,
such as Schulze's (1992). These differentiation strategies support museums in becoming
attractive to a variety of visitors.
Visitor-orientation as Strategic Orien tation
As visitor-orientation is considered strategically important for museum work, it has to
be conceived as the orientation that gives museum work a focus and provides guidance.
Visitor-orientation is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve the major goals of museums. It
is the leading principle that should be followed throughout museum work.
The central idea of visitor-orientation shapes the attitudes of museum staff throughout the
organisation, allowing audiences' needs, interests and preconditions to influence the direction
of m u s e um w o r k .
The Role of Audience Research and Evaluation
In o r d e r to nd o ut w h a t ma k e s mu s e ums a t t r act i v e an d in w h i c h fo r m mu s e um wo r k is
appropriate to their visitors, museums need information concerning their audiences, such as
which groups of the population currendy are brought into the museum, what are the
conditions under which learning in an informal setting is possible and what are the visitors'
attitudes towards the museum's programmes and services. Visitor studies and evaluations are useil
tools to gather reUable information about museum visitors in a systematic way (cf. Loomis,
1987; Screven, 1990). In addition, non-visitor research can also provide useful information
(cf. Kirchberg, 1996; Schäfer, 1996). Audience research here is conceived as comprising both
visitor and non-visitor research as well as evaluation. The methods of audience research that
many museums already use can be interpreted firom a strategic perspective and used
Whereas visitor studies provide information on a more general level, such as the audience
profde and levels of satisfaction, evaluations assess museum services in more detail. The classical
objects of museum evaluation are the exhibitions, but the principles of evaluation can be
applied to the whole range of the museum's services. Evaluations can provide detailed
assessments of exhibitions, programmes, visitor services, commercial outlets and other museum
services. The function of evaluations is not a mere critique of museum work, but to initiate a
constructive learning process. Audience research and evaluation can help a museum on its way
towards a strategic orientation by supporting goal-defining, strategic planning and the
implementation of measures. Used in this way, audience research and evaluation can be
considered as means of strategic analysis and strategic control.
Audience Research and Evaluation as Strategic Analysis
For visitor-oriented museums, information about their visitors and the potential visitors in
their environment is relevant to assess their internal situation as well as their position in the
museum's environment. Through visitor surveys and status-quo evaluation, audience research
contributes to the organisational analysis.
A visitor prole survey paints a picture of the parts of the population the museum has reached.
It can describe the demographic and psychographic characteristics of its audiences, that at the
same time allow drawing conclusions on the target groups still underrepresented. Additionally,
this information can help to customise the museum's services for different audiences. A visitor
experience survey adds useful information in assessing the qualities and weaknesses of the visiting
experience, including all aspects of museum services, from the exhibitions and educational
programmes to the opening hours, the assortment of the museum shop and the service quality
in the museum cafe. If this information is related to visitor characteristics, museums can draw
useful conclusions differentiated for diverse audiences.
In the frame of strategic analysis, a so-called status-quo evaluation is suitable to assess the
current status of museum work. Existing services are reviewed concerning their strengths and
weaknesses to nd out where changes are necessary. In this assessment, visitor-responsiveness is
an important criterion to judge the exhibition, the educational programme or special events.
To complement the internal analysis of a museum, non-visitor research and comparative studies
support the environmental analysis. To help museums develop attracting power, the
environmental analysis collects information about the popularity and the pubUc image of a
museum, but also on socio-economic trends, leisure preferences, cultural attitudes and patterns
of media consumption.
Non-visitor research does not use museum visitors as primary sources of information, but
focuses on those that never or seldom find their way to the museum (cf. Kirchberg 1996;
Schäfer, 1996). On the one hand, it helps to identify target groups that could be reached by the
museum, and on the other hand, non-visitor research provides insight in motives and
particularly in barriers for a museum visit that need to be overcome to really open the museum
to a broad pubUc.
Concerning visitor-orientation, comparative studies focus on the services of other museiuns,
cultural and leisure institutions (cf. Oster, 1995: 144f). For example, subjects of comparison can
be the attendance figures of other museums or cultural and leisure institutions, their visitor
programmes and exhibitions, as well as service quaUty and marketing activities. While, on the
one hand, this comparison provides an overview concerning the services of competitors, on the
other hand, it allows to identify which factors contribute to the success of other museums.
The museum then has to assess whether it could also utüise those factors or find a niche to
distinguish its services x)m its competitors and develop a unique prole.
Audience Research and Evaluation as Strategic Control
Evaluations can also be considered as parts of strategic control as they aim to accompany the
development and implementation of programmes in a critical way. Front-end evaluation provides
information at the initial stage of planning, i.e. it takes place before a project is concretely
planned and brought into action. The intention is to get an idea of the perceptions of the
visitors to avoid the implementation of expensive, but ineffective measures. Formative evaluation
takes place during the planning stage and helps to nd out the best ways to design exhibits.
programmes, marketing campaigns or other activities. Formative evaluation aims to optimise
measures before their nal implementation. As it initiates corrections and modications if the
achievement of the goals is endangered, it fulls the tasks of strategic control. Even with a very
careful preparation, problems can appear after implementation. Remedial evaluation helps to
identify and remove such problems so that museum staff can put the nishing touches to their
exhibitions and programmes. Finally, the exhibition, respectively the programmes are judged in
terms of success in view of the strategic goals through summative evaluation. The function of
summative evaluation is to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the programmes, i.e. if the
exhibition, the visitor programme, a new marketing campaign or an event achieved their goals
and if the investment was worth its effect. Summative evaluation does not necessarily relate to a
single programme, but can as well assess a set of different activities. Whatever task is concerned,
visitor-orientation is the primary benchmark to judge the success of museum work.
This article has described a new, comprehensive approach to strategic management for visitor-
oriented museums, overturning the focus on business, formal planning and external marketing.
This paper proposed a change of focus in strategic museum management towards including
cultural policy guidelines and the principles of visitor-orientation, in order to overcome the
tension between the strategic demand to develop visitor-oriented museum services and the
duties of museums as public institutions.
A comprehensive model of the strategic management process has been proposed. Due to
limited space, the impUcations of strategic management for visitor-oriented museums have
been described briefly. While focusing on visitor-orientation, the strategic museum
management model proposed in this paper could be applied to other aspects of museum
work, for example, research excellence or optimising the museum's nancial performance.
Proposing a model for the strategic management of visitor-oriented museums, this paper is
conceptual in nature. The practical implementation of this model goes beyond the scope of this
paper. However, there are some issues that should be kept in mind when implementing the
concept of strategic management. Taking the audiences' perspectives seriously is a prerequisite
for strategically successful visitor-oriented museum work. The concept of strategic
management is not applicable from one day to the other, but requires rst of all developing
strategic thinking and raising awareness of the basic strategic principles throughout the
institution. The application of this model at particular museums certainly needs to be
elaborated and adapted to the individual museum conditions. To avoid translation problems,
museums do not need to adopt all the methods and tools of strategic management derived from
private business, but procedures they use can be reinterpreted with a strategic focus, as for
example, audience research.
The ways in which museiuns can benet from audience research, as suggested in this paper,
go far beyond current common uses of audience research and evaluation. Audience research
and evaluation can be considered as instruments for strategic analysis and control and used to
review the whole range of museum functions. Certainly this is subject to the availability of
resources—not only in financial terms, but also of expertise in order to obtain reliable and
useable results. Nevertheless, also low-effort methods like a heightened interest in the activities
of competitors, learning from studies conducted by other institutions and simple procedures
like the collection of museum visitor postcodes may turn out to be very useful to strategically
position the museum vis-a-vis its competitors and its audience.
I would like to thank Associate Professor Ruth Rentschler as well as the anonymous reviewers
of this paper for their valuable comments. I would also Uke to thank Carolyn Meehan, Lynda
Kelly and Carol Scott for stimulating discussions about the issue of audience research and
* evaluation in museums. Finally, I would like to thank Dr Ralf Reussner for his continuous
support, the niitil discussions on strategic museum management and his helpful comments on
this paper.
* The link between strategic museum management and audience research is hardly covered in
publications, except for two conference presentations, one by Tim Sullivan on the 1998 Conference
"Visitors Centre Stage: Action for the Future" in Canberra, demonstrating how audience research and
evaluation have inuenced the development of a corporate strategy at the Australian Museum, Sydney.
The second contribution is made by his colleague Lynda Kelly, listing a strategic use among the
important functions of audience research in museums in her opening address at the Evaluation and
Visitor Research Special Interest Group Day of the 2001 Museums Australia Conference. This paper
complements their view with the theoretical incorporation of audience research into the model of the
strategic museum management process and a detailed description of its role within that process.
W o r k s C i t e d
Ambrose, T. and Runyard, S., eds, (1991) Forward Planning. A Handbook of Business, Corporate and Developmettt Planning
for Museums and Galleries (London; New York).
Bradburne, J.M. (2001) "A new strategic approach to the museum and its relationship to society". Museum Management
and Curatorship 19, 75-84.
Council of Australian Museums Association Inc. (1993). Preuious Possessions, New Obligations: Policies for Museums in
Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait blander People.
Denis, J.L., Lang^ey, A. and Lozeau, D. (1993) "The paradoxes of strategic planning in the public sector". Optimum.
The Journal of Public Sector Management 24, 31 -41.
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (1974) Denkschrift Museen. Zur iMge der Museen in der Bundesrepublik
Deutschland und Berlin (West) (Boppard).
Doering, Z.D. (1999) "Strangers, guests, or clients? Visitor experiences in museums". Curator 42, 74-87.
Falk, J. H. and Dierking, L.D. (1992) Ute Museum Experience (Washington, DC).
Falk, J.H. and Dierking, L.D., eds (1995) Public Institutions for Personal Learning: Establishing a Research Agenda
(Washington, DC).
i Falk, J.H. and Dierl^g, L.D. (2000) Learning from Museums: Visitor Experiences and the Making of Meaning
(Walnut Creek, CA).
Graf, B. (1999). Besucherorientierung als Leitziel der Museumsarbeit in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, in Geöffnet!
das Museum furden Besucher. Proceedings of the 10th Bavarian Museum Day, Landshut, 7-9 Juli 1999, Munich, 21-29.
* Günter, B. (1998) "Besucherorientienmg: eine Herausforderung fur Museen und Ausstellungen", In: Scher, Marita
Anna, eds, ^mwelt-) Ausstellungen und ihre Wirkung (Oldenburg), pp 51 -55.
Harrison, J.S. and St. John, C.H. (1994) Strategie Management of Organizations and Stakeholders. Theory and Cases
(St. Paul, MN).
Hill, C.W.L. and Jones, G.R. (1995) Strategic Management-An Integrated Approach, 3rd Ed. (Boston, MA).
Hooper-Greenhill, E. (1994) Museums and Their Visitors (London).
Hooper-GreenhiU, E., ed, (1999) The Educational Role of the Museum, 2nd Ed. (London; New York).
Johnson, G. and Scholes, K. (1997) Exploring Corporate Strategy, 4th Ed. (Hertfordshire).
Kahn, D.M. (1997) "Community-bezogene Ausstellungen", Museumskunde 62, 48-53.
Kawashima, N. (1998) "Plaruiing ahead". Museums Journal 3/1998, 34f.
Kirchbeig, V. (1996) "Museum visitors and non-visitors in Germany: A representative survey", Poetia 24, 239-258.
Klein, H.-J. (2001) "Let's do it! Ein Plädoyer fur Besucherorientierung, Besucheranalyse und Evaluation", Museum
Aktuell 65, 2639-2643.
Kommunale Gemeinschaftsstelle für Verwaltungsvereinfachung (KGSt) (1989) Die Museen. Besucherorientiemng und
Wirtschaftlichkeit (Cologne).
Köder, N. and Köder, F. (1998) Museum Strategy and Marketing. Designing Missions, Building Audiences, Generating Revenue
and Resources (San Francisco).
Köder, N. and Köder, F. (2000) "Can Museums be All Things to All People?: Missions, Goals, and Marketing's Role",
Museum Management and Curatorship 18, 271-287.
der, F. and Andreasen, A.R. (1996) Strategie Marketing/or Non-Profit Organizations, 5th Ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ). •
Kovach, C. (1989) "Strategic management for museums". The International Journal of Museum Management and
Curatorship 8, 137-148.
Kreilkamp, E. (1987) Strategisches Management und Marketing (Berlin).
Kulturausschuß der Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK)(1996) "Handreichung des Kulturausschusses der Kultusminis- *
terkonferenz zu den Aufgaben der Museen", Museumskunde 61, 104-106.
Landschaftsverband Rheiidand, eds, (1997) Das besucherorientierte Museum (Cologne).
Loomis, R.J. (1987) Museum Visitor Evaluation: New Tool for Management (Nashville, TN).
Mintzbei^, H., Quinn, J.B. and Ghoshal, S. (1999) The Strategy Process (London, New York).
Moulton, J. (1997) The Art of Strategie Planning: Visions And Strategies For Cultural Organisations (Melbourne).
Nuissl, E. (1987) Bildung im Museum: zur Realisieruttg des Bildungsauftrages in Museen und Kunstvereinen (Heidelberg).
Oster, S.M. (1995) Strategie Management for Nonprot Organizations: Theory and Cases (New York; Oxford).
Sandell, R. (1998) "Museums as agents of social inclusion", Museum Marragemertt and Curatorship 17, 401-418.
Schäfer, H. (1996) Non-visitor research: an important addition to the unknown. In: Visitor Studies Association (Ed.)
Visitor Studies: Theory, Research and Practice, Vol. 9, Selected Papers from the 1996 Visitor Studies Conference,
Jacksonville, Alabama, 195-205.
Schulze, G. (1992) Die Erlebnis-Cesellschafi. Kultursoziologie der Cegenwart (Frankfurt; New York).
Screven, C. (1990) "Uses of evaluation before, during and after exhibit design", ILVS Review: A Journal of Visitor
Behavior 1, 36-66.
Staehle, W.H. (1999) Mattagernerrt: eine verhaltensivissenschaftliche Perspektive 8th Ed., (Munich).
Steinmann, H. and Schreyögg, G. (1997) Management: Grundlagen der Untemehmensföhnrng. Korrzepte-Funktionen-
Fallstudien 4th Ed. (Wiesbaden).
Thompson, Jr., A.A. and Strickland, AJ. (1993) Strategie Management. Concepts and Cases, 7th Ed. (Boston, MA).
Treinen, H. (1996) "Das Museum als kultureller Vermittlungsort in der Erlebnisgesellschaft", Vom Elfenbeinturm zur
Fußgängerzone: Drei Jahrzehnte deutsche Museumsentwicklurrg. Versuch einer Bilanz und Standortbestimmurrg
(Landschafbverband Rheinland, Opladen), pp III-121.
UNESCO (1998) World Culture Report. Culture, Creativity and Markets (Paris).
Weil, S.E. (1997) "The museum and the public", Museum Management and Curatorship 16, 257-271.
... Similar to its neglection of variety of subsectors of tourism (Altın et al., 2021), museum's impact on the tourism industry as well as their fundamental managerial practices were also undermined significantly. The importance of management for museums supported by sophisticated studies, and growing interest against subject in the literature stake the importance of strategic management for museums (Moore, 1999;Griffin et al., 1999;Griffin et al., 2000;Kotler et al., 2000;Reussner, 2003;Sandell et al., 2007). ...
... al. will be willing to participate in. As a possible approach to cope with this crucial predicament, museums have embraced the concept of strategic management from for-profit organizations in order to cope with the changing demands of the societies and complex nature of competition (Reussner, 2003;Papoulias et al., 2020). For non-profit organizations like museums; strategies that focuses on business, external marketing, long term planning and a more comprehensive view that follows the "Goal Development-Strategic Planning-Strategy Selection-Implementation and Program Development" path are recommended by the literature (Hatten, 1982;Kovach, 1989;Ambrose et al., 1991;Oster, 1995;Kotler et al., 1996;Kotler et al., 2000;Kawashima, 1998;Kotler, 2001;Reussner, 2003;Kong,2008). ...
... As a possible approach to cope with this crucial predicament, museums have embraced the concept of strategic management from for-profit organizations in order to cope with the changing demands of the societies and complex nature of competition (Reussner, 2003;Papoulias et al., 2020). For non-profit organizations like museums; strategies that focuses on business, external marketing, long term planning and a more comprehensive view that follows the "Goal Development-Strategic Planning-Strategy Selection-Implementation and Program Development" path are recommended by the literature (Hatten, 1982;Kovach, 1989;Ambrose et al., 1991;Oster, 1995;Kotler et al., 1996;Kotler et al., 2000;Kawashima, 1998;Kotler, 2001;Reussner, 2003;Kong,2008). ...
Full-text available
Collecting, protecting and presenting a diverse range of objects can be considered as one of the main purposes of the museums. Similar to many other non-profit organizations, management aspect of museums is often ignored or overlooked up until the beginning of 21st century. However, with the innovative managerial practices, impact of globalization and inter-connected entertainment sector forced the museums to integrate strategic management practices into their operations. Within this context, study aims to discover the managerial perspective of the visited-oriented museums in Turkey and explore whether they are embracing or employing strategic management principles or not. To achieve this aim, 12 semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with the museum managers. Results highlights the contemporary administrative structures of Turkish museums which yields valuable information. Numerous managerial implications and future recommendations are provided for the effective management of museums.
... This model aligns with research in a variety of fields including tourism, museology and consumer behavior (Cameron, 2007). Providing consistent, high quality visitor experiences is both challenging and complex (Chronis, 2012;Reussner 2003) as todays visitors are increasingly interested in authentic and "real" experiences (Bonn et al, 2007;Lopez-Sintas et al 2012) which they are most likely to receive when they are able to learn about and interact with the people and context where they visit (Grenier 2010;Macdonald 2007;McKay, 2007). In an effort to educate visitors, many artisans are adopting strategies from the museum world (Bannon et al, 2005) -a practice which is believed to impact financial performance as well (Hume, 2011). ...
Full-text available
The intent of this volume is to provide an opportunity for academics, extension professionals, industry stakeholders and community practitioners to reflect, discuss and share the innovative approaches that they have taken to develop sustainable tourism in a variety of different contexts. This volume includes nine cases from across North and Central America reaching from Hawaii in the west to New England in the east and from Quebec in the north to Costa Rica in the south. Case studies are a valuable way to synthesize and share lessons learned and they help to create new knowledge and enhanced applications in practice. There are two main audiences for this volume: 1) faculty and students in tourism related academic programs who will benefit from having access to current case studies that highlight how various stakeholders are approaching common issues, opportunities and trends in tourism, and 2) extension agents and practitioners who will gain important insights from the lessons learned in the current case study contexts. The National Extension Tourism (NET) Design Team and the World Leisure Centre of Excellence in Sustainability and Innovation are delighted to share the latest Innovative and Promising Practices in Sustainable Tourism.
... Visitor studies is concerned with the systematic collection and analysis of data to inform decisions about interpretive exhibits and programs and comprises market research, scholarly research, and evaluation(Kelly, 2004;Korn, 2007;Reussner, 2003). ...
... Second, attempts to understand the audience aim to accurately identifying the target audience for visiting the museum [55,56] and providing appropriate services to the visitors based on their needs and requirements [57,58]. Therefore, it is necessary to not only listen to the thoughts and opinions of museum visitors, but also understand their daily interests and characteristics in detail. ...
As social networking services (SNSs) have become increasingly influential, they are now a vital element in art museums because communication with visitors is crucial. However, conventional methods of visitor studies do not consider the characteristics of SNS. Even when a museum uses an SNS as a marketing tool, it cannot sufficiently analyze the data to understand the visitor. Additionally, linking the SNS analysis content with the actual visitor in the museum requires an application to identify visitor types. Therefore, we extracted communities through a social network analysis of museum followers, analyzed the characteristics for specific groups, and designed a web-based, visitor-type analysis application for art museums based on text similarity measurements. The experimental results demonstrated that followers of each art museum on an SNS form a community with similar characteristics or interests. Furthermore, our developed application provides a new way to analyze the type of visitors in an art museum. Consequently, because it can automatically identify visitor types, it improves the exhibition experience of visitors by linking them with the exhibition contents or guide services and is a new attempt to connect SNS with the museum visitor. CCS CONCEPTS: • Human-centered computing → Collaborative and social computing design and evaluation methods; Social network analysis Additional
... However, research on strategic orientation and its relationship with performance in the context of corporate museums is completely lacking. More in general, the concept of strategic management has been proved to be quite unfamiliar in the context of museums and non-profit organizations (Reussner, 2003). The few existing contributions aiming at investigating the strategic orientation of public museums propose different constructs to identify strategic priorities and posture and very often present contrasting results. ...
Purpose The main aim of the study is to empirically investigate the relationship between strategic orientation and a dual conceptualization of performance (i.e. non-economic performance and economic performance) in the research context of corporate museums, which are owned and run by private companies. Furthermore, the study aims to explore the nature of the relationship between the dual performance, shedding light on the relevance of non-economic results for this peculiar category of museums. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on survey data from 105 Italian corporate museums, which represent almost the entire population in the country (91%). A structural model was estimated using SmartPLS software in order to examine the direct and indirect effects of strategic orientation on corporate museums' non-economic and economic performance. Findings The findings show that only if corporate museums are able to achieve non-economic performance, creating value for the owning company and the local community, they can also have good results in economic terms. Thus, the non-economic performance acts as a mediator into the relationship between strategic orientation and economic performance. Originality/value The current work is a pioneer study for the empirical investigation of performance within corporate museums. The empirical model of the study, based on a dual conceptualization of performance and a mediation analysis, is completely innovative in this research context.
The museum as a cultural institution was created as a part of the nation-state, according to nationalism ideology, and for the transmission of the historical heritage of a particular society and culture. It resulted in organisational assumptions as rules of practices and style of operations or management. The transformation of public management in cultural institutions, such as museums, is part of the model of the “big” transformation based on the neoliberal turnaround in thinking and acting in the late twentieth century. The paper constitutes an analysis of the mechanisms of contemporary public policies of cultural institutions. It examines the role of the museum at the market-oriented levels of analysis as production, exchange and consumption. This study is based on desk research analysis and argues that a new identity of the museum has appeared that is still shifting towards a new direction created by the SARS-COVID-19 pandemic.
Full-text available
This thesis deals with the issue of the communication between an archaeological site of the Greek region and the local audience, and the importance of implementing tools of Public Archeology in their best communication. Initially, the concept of communication, in particular in the field of culture, is discussed, and then briefly mentioned the history and the characteristics of the science of Archeology, as well as the modern field of Public Archeology, which is the point of contact between the public and the, until very recently, introverted, Greek archaeological field. As case study, ancient Zone is presented, one of the most important archaeological sites of Thrace, located in the Municipality of Alexandroupolis of Evros‟ Regional Unity. After a brief description of the archaeological site and its history, a quantitative public research is carried out, combined with qualitative research tools, such as interview and archive analysis. Finally, the conclusions of the research and suggestions for improving the communication of the archaeological site with the local audience are presented.
Museum directors play a fundamental role in the management of arts institutions, and they need to constantly adapt to the changes and requirements of the society. Questions have been raised about how decisions are made in museums, and if any specific method exists to analyze and select exhibitions for a complete annual program. Interviews conducted with several directors and experts have confirmed that, in general, the decision-making process within cultural institutions is intuitive and based on the experience and subjectivity of the director, who has an artistic background but sometimes lacks experience in arts management. In order to address this subject, this study applied the Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) to CaixaForum Barcelona, an important cultural institution in Spain, and analyzed the decision-making process followed while selecting artists and topics for a temporary exhibition. This research contributes to a new decision-making method and the improvement of exhibition scheduling in arts organizations.
The attitude to history in any country depends on its current challenges and those that people will have to face in the future. In this regard, the vision of the past and the collective memory change with each new generation. The Great Patriotic War (1941–1945) is the main historical event in contemporary Russia. Having rejected the old vision of the twentieth-century events which have been previously considered the most significant, such as the Bolshevik Revolution, contemporary Russia has retained a vision of its place and role in World War II. This is evidenced by the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of its victory in the war. The Museum of the Great Patriotic War (Victory Museum) in Moscow plays a significant role in celebrating this anniversary and creating the overall image of the war. The Victory Museum deals with preserving the memory of the war and educating young generations about this historical period. The museum has done a lot to reconstruct and update most of the exhibitions and change the nature of its activities. This article analyses this reconstruction process, new exhibitions in the museum and its new forms of work with visitors, particularly the young generation of Russian people. The author analyses how the exhibits have been transformed from traditional to multimedia ones and pays special attention to their interactive and communicative aspects, which have changed the role of visitors and the museum.
Effective management is necessary to meet the goals of a museum. Features that characterize effective management are discussed. A key prerequisite for successful management is planning and setting goals. The result of the planning process is the establishment of a strategic plan; a method for effective strategic planning is presented. The establishment of a plan must be followed by the organization of activities so that the plan is feasible and achievable. Models and tools of effective management are introduced, including process management, project management, performance measurement, optimization of activities, optimization of the number of museum employees, personnel audits, quality models, and benchmarking. To achieve success, it is necessary not only to apply management models and methods, leadership and motivation are also important. The ever-evolving world full of uncertainty, new demands, and the onset of the so-called digital era is affecting the activities of managers and staff, who face new challenges. An integral part of management is control.