Connecting Strategic Practices, Regionality and Institution: A Ventriloquism Perspective on Creativity in Agencies
When it comes to establishing or maintaining an organization, the choice of region is a key strategic factor. This is even truer for creative organizations, whose social capital is based on the presence of innovative clusters (Delgado, Porter & Stern, 2010; Porter, 2007), a “creative class” (Florida, 2003; Pratt, 2008), and a network that helps establish its value and spur its creative production (Simon, 2009). In this article, I set out to demonstrate the interdependence between the effects of a “region,” understood as acting in and through the discourse of employees, and the macro-institutional (Vaara & Whittington, 2012) effects of the cult of creativity in the advertising industry. Drawing on two case studies within two respective advertising agencies in outlying regions (SAORs), and based on the approach of the constitutive role of communication in organizations (Cooren & Robichaud, 2011; Cooren, 2015; Putnam & Fairhurst, 2015; Putnam & Nicotera, 2008) and more specifically the premise of ventriloquism (Cooren, 2013), the article shows how certain cultural figures produce strategic practices to counter the effects of the region, whereas others cause the agency to tend toward an institutionalized ideal of advertising creativity. In doing so, the article will demonstrate how observing what is done against the name of this region already reveals practices that push a (creative) organization in a given direction, bringing into play strategic orientations of becoming that must be taken into account in order to avoid undermining creativity. The article responds to a call for a conceptualization of institutionalized constitutive effects as they are ventriloquized in strategic practice (Jarzabkowski, Burke & Spee, 2015; Smets, Greenwood & Lounsbury, 2015; Vaara & Whittington, 2012), but in relation to regionality, which has rarely been explored in strategy as practice (SAP) approaches.