Creative Artists in Academic and Practitioner Communities: Career Transitions, Role Identity Hybridization and Knowledge Brokering

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW1.3.01 (Tower One)
Alice Lam, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom; Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, United Kingdom
Academics and practitioners are often seen as belonging to two distinct communities with a pervasive research/practice divide that creates barriers to knowledge exchange. The model is very different in the artistic and creative disciplines where knowledge creation and transmission are deeply embedded in the hybrid careers and dual role identities of many academics working as artists and artists working as academics. The practice-based nature of creative research coupled with the prevalence of multiple job holding give rise to a large overlapping space between the academic and practitioner communities. This study looks at a group of artist-academics whose careers and work experiences straddle the two communities. It examines how career mobility and work role transitions enable these individuals to connect themselves to both the academic and practitioner identities, and to act as knowledge brokers by combining different knowledge types and modes of knowledge creation/ representation to engage with heterogeneous audiences. It argues that role identity hybridization enables artist-academics to develop the cognitive ability and motivation to broker knowledge across boundaries. Individuals’ cognitive interpretive structures are part of their identities. They develop knowledge and competence by identifying and behaving in the context of group membership.  Role identity hybridization enables individuals to develop dynamic self-structures and breaks down the cognitive conservatism inherent in their core self-conceptions. It promotes cognitive flexibility and perspective taking that enable individuals to produce and articulate knowledge that is relevant and useful to others. Hybrids are situated between two different social worlds and enact brokering roles in order to validate their identities and sustain a sense of self-consistency across domain boundaries. Whereas previous research has focused on network ties as the main mechanism through which career mobility influences knowledge creation and brokering, this study highlights the underlying cognitive and behavioural mechanisms. The empirical evidence is based on individual interviews with 35 academic-artists in drama, music, media arts and design from three London-based research universities. The conceptual framework developed in this paper represents the first attempt to integrate theories of career and work role transitions, identities and knowledge brokering.