Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

The Creative Industries: Ireland's New Tiger Economy?

Academic journal article Irish Journal of Management

The Creative Industries: Ireland's New Tiger Economy?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In recent years, academics and politicians alike have witnessed a growth in interest in the creative industries internationally. Once considered a peripheral, low-margin business with little or no impact on the economy, creative industries are quickly becoming one of the most promising business sectors worldwide. This interest in all things creative has been accelerated by a combination of the globalisation of communications and recent advances in digital technology, plus the lure of high-value, high-skilled job creation, leading to sustainable economic growth and new business development. Creative industries are now among the fastest growing sectors worldwide, with growth rates far outstripping that of traditional manufacturing industries, as well as high-tech sectors, such as information and communications technology (ICT) and telecommunications. Interestingly, this emerging sector is not solely relegated to the wealthy nations of Europe and America. India, China, South Africa and even Cuba are now moving into the creative sector (see for example Starkwhite, 2002; Waller, 1996). However, some commentators have begun to question the disproportionate amount of attention currently being paid to the creative sector, suggesting that its economic forecasts are grossly exaggerated and that the term 'creative industries' itself merely constitutes a re-categorisation of existing sectors into a new, more popular cluster. This research note explores the basis for the growing interest in the creative industries and attempts to determine how much of this interest is fuelled by hype and how much by reality.

THE SECTOR DEFINED

The concept of the 'creative industry' first emerged in Australia in the early 1990s. Originally, the term was used to describe all industries based on creativity that generated intellectual property, but this description was quickly narrowed to include industries that had an artistic or cultural bent (Howkins, 2002). Currently the creative industries are generally regarded as 'activities that have their origin in individual creativity, skill, and talent, and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property' (DCMS, 2001). The sector includes a wide range of business types, from the conventional crafts, advertising, designer fashion and antiques, through to the more emerging businesses associated with the entertainment and leisure software sector, and the extensive range of related support services. On a global scale, governments worldwide have been quick to recognise the growing importance of the creative industries. Traditionally, the sector was regarded as a luxury or lifestyle activity, with little or no real impact on the economy. Increasingly, the sector has become synonymous with facilitating the move to a knowledge-based, high-value economy. Partly due to the work of Florida (2002, 2004), governments in countries as diverse as the United States, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea have adopted a new perspective on these industries and are now beginning to treat them as 'the new mass manufacturers, situated at the very heart of the knowledge economy' (DCMS, 2001). This perspective is supported by Wolf, who claims that 'entertainment not autos, not steel, not financial services - is fast becoming the driving wheel of the new economy' (1999: 4). However, a substantive argument rationalising the sudden and somewhat disproportionate amount of attention currently being paid to the creative industries would appear to be lacking in the literature. In the absence of explicit evidence, a number of plausible explanations have been offered. First, according to Smith (M2 Presswire, 2001), the sector is central to everyday life: '[it is] all around us: the shoes and clothes we wear, the buildings we live and work in, the computer software we use for business and pleasure, the music we listen to, the books and TV programmes we enjoy at leisure'. …

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