Coping with ICT adoption: a difficult route for heritage in Southern Europe

Creative Industries & Culture

publication date 22/09/2017

This study aims to understand the behavior of Southern Europe heritage organizations regarding ICT adoption and to identify the factors favoring and inhibiting this adoption, a multi-case study approach, based on 30 reference heritage organizations in France, Portugal, and Spain.

The results show that the three dominant behaviors of heritage organizations regarding technology adoption are conservative, pragmatist, and visionary. Heritage organizations adopt ICT to achieve each of their missions: artifacts digitalization, audience development and heritage promotion. Their involvement in ICT depends on diverse factors including type of heritage, size, statute, network connection and public policy.

This study contributes to an understanding of ICT adoption by South-Western Europe organizations. Their behavior is mainly conservative, with some differences depending on the nature of their collections, their status, size and regions of implementation. Many organizations are still stuck fast in their outdated attitudes, isolated, with no digital skills, lacking in funding, and reluctant to turn to technology. Nevertheless, even if digital technology is not perceived as strategic at the moment, more and more organizations are willing to use it to improve their image and attract more visitors. The dynamism of private organizations, the commitment of some pioneer organizations, the support from public policies for digital projects and the energy developed by digital networks are a powerful driving force for ICT adoption by heritage organizations.

Conservative and pragmatist organizations have to keep going, to consider all types of financial support (public or private), to work towards a better way of welcoming visitors and above all to exchange their knowledge and practices in an open innovative system with a community of digital, heritage, cultural and tourism organizations. Compared with other sectors of the economy, especially in Continental Europe, ICT adoption in heritage organizations, even in those that are pioneers, is still merely incidental. Organizations must go further and become more involved in innovation. The relationship with visitors has to become central. Many companies interact with their customers in order to create innovation with them and to involve them in the production offer. Public authorities have to encourage networking by digital, heritage and tourism organizations, promote financial support for digital heritage and they also have the duty to educate heritage employees in the use of digital tools.

Gombault, A., Allal-Cherif, O., Decamps, A. (2016). ICT adoption in heritage organizations: Crossing the chasm. Journal of Business Research, 69 (11), 5135-5140

Gombault A., Allal-Cherif O., Decamps A., Grellier C. (2017), coping with ICT adoption, the hard way of heritage in Southern Europe. In : Conference of the International Association of Arts and Cultural Management, AIMAC, 25-28 juin, Beijing, China. (Best award paper)