Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Create-ing Business: Understanding Professional Tension in an Advertising Agency

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posted on 2021-11-11, 20:57 authored by Pant, Saumya

The purpose of this research is to concentrate on aspects of organisation culture in an advertising agency and how they help us in understanding professional tensions and conflicts. To do so I have looked within advertising agencies and endeavoured to understand their organisational dynamics. Advertising business is known for stress and tension (Kover and Goldberg, 1995). From the tension of 'pitching' Is a key step in winning a client account, here several agencies are invited to respond in person to the advertise brief. This is an important stage to demonstrate potential and add value to the product or client. Based on aesthetic values the client the makes a judgement to pass the responsibility to pass the responsibility to develop an advertisement for the product for a client to the development of an advert, the agency goes through a variety of stages where conflict, stress, internal politics and tension influence the outcome. One such tension which this research attempts to understand is the ongoing professional tussle between the creative division of an advertising agency and management. This tension between the two bodies has been studied by advertising research however these studies have only attempted to describe the conflicts that exist as well as suggest what the advertising industry can do in an attempt to tackle these scenarios. Alternatively this research applies concepts of Organisational Behaviour (OB) such as culture and identity to grasp the reasons behind this professional tension. It also recognises a strong link between identity and culture. Therefore the research challenges the common view of organisational culture, that is, it portrays culture as a form of normative control unlike the conventional notion of culture as the means of unison and conformity without resistance within an organisation. This approach will examine what role culture plays in the professional lives of an advertising agency. To analyse the role of culture as a form of control I developed a methodology that targets multiple facets of organisational culture. This research is based on a case study of an Aotearoa, New Zealand based advertising agency (pseudonym Organisation B). It involved the use of various research approaches including story or narrative analysis and rich pictures to capture the core assumptions, values and beliefs that sometimes surfaced as resistance within this agency. As a result of completing this case study I achieved some understanding of reasons that may trigger tension within an agency. I learnt of the normative and bureaucratic forms of controls used within this contemporary organisation and the rationale behind their development which I have referred to as the overarching story of Organisation B. This research also provides a new dimension to advertising research by focusing on the role of organisational culture and identity in fostering professional conflicts within an agency. This research has emphasized the role of organisational culture as a control mechanism for those in management positions. In this particular agency this is achieved via the development of a 'laid back' and 'casual' culture which is carefully designed by the owners of the business thus providing them an opportunity to curtail any resistance originating within the culture. Nevertheless, members of this agency continue to channel their resistance by striving towards the ideal creative identity. The implications of the findings to the larger advertising industry suggest that: i) Growing advertising agencies need to consider fractional views embedded in their organisational structures and realise that cultural change does not happen in isolation. ii) The research also proposes that having a strong culture is not synonymous to success and unity among a workforce. iii) There is a need to maintain a balance between creativity and strategic planning, as they are both crucial in an advertising industry.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Management Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Bridgman, T