Digital Change and Industry Responses: Exploring organizational and strategic issues in the book-publishing industry

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Frania Hall
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This paper is based on primary research conducted with 22 senior publishing industry managers in the UK as a preliminary survey for a PhD. It seeks to establish a base on which to develop further research around the changes taking place in the organizational and collaborative behaviour of an industry facing digital challenges. The survey asked the 22 managing directors and operations and digital directors how they view current conditions in the industry in light of digital change. It allows subjects to speak for themselves in order to learn (a) how far-reaching they feel change is, (b) where that change is having most effect in their day-to-day business, (c) whether they themselves are making organizational changes, and (d) how far collaboration forms part of this change. The collaboration aspect of the survey unpicks in more detail how far collaborations are (a) increasing in frequency, (b) are changing in vision (i.e. more exploratory or not), and (c) involve different organizational behaviour. The research reveals many areas of clear consensus around key issues of technical competence, new patterns in consumption, entrepreneurship, and silo structures. There is an understanding that the ability to respond quickly and to innovate continuously is essential. On collaborations, most people concurred that they were entering more partnerships than in the past and that these were often more experimental in approach and involved sharing risk; ultimately, this points to a clearer strategy emerging in companies to develop structures, skills, and techniques to facilitate new styles of collaboration, which in turn may lead to new ways of innovating in a flexible, failure-tolerant way.

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