Passion or people? Social capital and career sustainability in arts management

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Personnel Review


Emerald Group Publishing Ltd


School of Business and Law




Richardson, J., Richardson, J., Jogulu, U., Jogulu, U., Rentschler, R., & Rentschler, R. (2017). Passion or people? Social capital and career sustainability in arts management. Personnel Review, 46(8), 1835-1851.



The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of social capital for career success and sustainability among arts managers and the implication for human resource practice.


This paper is a qualitative study comprising interviews with 73 arts managers in Australia.


While answering an occupational calling and having a sense of passion for the arts is a key driver to embark upon a career in arts management, it is social capital that is essential for both objective and subjective career success and thus for career sustainability. The authors also identify the value of education, global experience and well-honed soft skills for building social capital.

Research limitations/implications

The study is located in Australia – arts management in other national contexts and industries may be different.

Practical implications

This paper identifies the need for arts managers to develop heterogeneous social capital to support both career success and sustainability. It also indicates that whereas passion for the arts may be an important driver, other skills and competencies are required. Both of these themes need to be incorporated into human resource practice in the arts industry.

Social implications

This paper demonstrates the growing need to acknowledge the impact of relational social capital in the arts in an increasingly volatile work environment.


This paper fills the gap in our understanding of careers that bridge both the arts and management as professional domains of activity and extends understanding on the role of social capital in management careers more generally.



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