Festivals as platforms for actors’ engagement in a local context

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The service ecosystem perspective provides a multi-level approach useful to represent the heterogeneous actors, the interdependence between them, and resource integration mechanisms. In the ecosystem, value co-creation is a cooperative, collaborative, and complex process that arises between different and heterogeneous actors (Vargo and Lusch, 2017). Given the dynamicity of the service ecosystem, it should adapt over time to changes in resource integration, shared worldviews, and outcomes; but in this evolution sometimes tensions amongst the different actors arise (McColl-Kennedy et al., 2020). The evolution of the service ecosystem may be influenced at least partially by the actors’ intended activities and practices (Vink et al., 2021; Mele et al., 2018) and impacted by the level of actors’ engagement. Actor engagement is defined as “an actor's voluntary resource contributions that focus on the engagement object [and] go beyond what is elementary to the exchange [...]” (Alexander et al., 2018, p. 336): all the actors are involved in exchange (Storbacka, 2019; Jaakkola & Alexander, 2014; Kumar et al., 2010) and the core of the engagement is resource contribution. Given this, the actors’ engagement is a continuous ongoing process (Storbacka, 2019). By adopting a service-dominant perspective and considering all the actors of the ecosystem as resource integrators, this study explores the role of actors’ engagement in cross-sector partnerships in the process of value co-creation towards cultural inclusion. Specifically, we analyze how these elements interact in a cultural festival that takes place in the northern part of Italy. The aim of the paper is threefold: (1) to investigate how actors in a specific context interact and integrate resources, (2) to investigate the evolution of cross-sector collaborations in pursuing inclusion and (social) sustainable objectives in a specific context, and (3) to recognize and address tensions arising among actors with different worldviews and behaviors. The study adopted a qualitative approach: we have collected qualitative data in the form of 12 in-depth interviews with key informants, and participatory observations of events taking place during the Festival, which took place in Milan in 2022 and 2023. Primary data have been triangulated with secondary data such as press releases and newspaper articles. The Festival's aim is to create a path of coexistence, closeness and exchange open to citizens and the community, its driving force is the artists involved and the participatory dramaturgical processes set in motion. The backbone of the Festival is an artistic mapping of the city with a specific focus on five periphery neighborhoods, through the local residents’ stories, with the aim of returning five performative studies that compose a 2 heterogeneous and multiform look at contemporary Milan. The specific objectives of the Festival are to connect artists with territorial communities and promote inclusion, trying to understand the different contexts based on listening to needs, criticalities and opportunities, soliciting the active cultural participation of local communities, in particular those who are generally excluded from it, promoting the interweaving of dramaturgical languages based on writing, physical action, video/images, music/sound, and strengthening the presence of a new generation of artists with diverse backgrounds. Preliminary findings show that festivals could be considered as platforms that foster actors’ engagement and resource integration. This platform is dynamic and adapts over time to changes in worldviews, outcomes and objectives; however, in this continuous evolution sometimes tensions amongst the heterogeneous actors arise and should be addressed (McColl-Kennedy et al., 2020). Indeed, the Festival also enables inter-organizational collaborations by offering opportunities
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarketing per il benessere, la salute e la cura
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventMarketing per il benessere, la salute e la cura. XX^ SIM Conference - Firenze
Duration: 20 Oct 202321 Oct 2023


ConferenceMarketing per il benessere, la salute e la cura. XX^ SIM Conference


  • actors’ engagement
  • value co-creation
  • resource integration
  • inclusion


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