WÜRTH Chair of Cultural Production

Dissertation Projects

Julian Stahl

Julian Stahl


Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy

Julian Stahl studied Arts and Cultural Management at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen and Communication in Social and Economic Contexts at Berlin University of the Arts. After internships at Schauspielhaus Bochum, Thalia Theater Hamburg and the German Embassy in Canada, he was responsible for setting up a digital division at PODIUM Esslingen

His research interests include organisational theory, arts management, and arts organisations in the context of current societal transformations. Stayed at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School as a visiting PhD in February/March 2022. The PhD project is supported by a scholarship of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes).

Dissertation Project

Organizing Uncertainty:
Production Houses of the Performing Arts in Transition

For some time now, there have been increasing discussions about how the role of arts organizations is changing in the face of current societal challenges. Discussed as a “legitimacy crisis” there is increasing pressure on arts organisations to provide a benefit to society: “cultural organizations cannot maintain their legitimacy just by giving access to high-quality arts and culture. They must do something more” (Kann-Rasmussen 2019: 307). It is not enough to organise ‘only’ artistic productions or exhibitions; participation, education, or artistic research are just a few examples of new demands.

In this context, arts organisations are addressed by many different actors who follow different logics or rationalities. The success of arts organisations is then not only evaluated according to artistic standards; economic indicators, political funding criteria, or the fulfillment of an educational mission are also relevant requirements. It can be assumed that organising this high level of complex requirements in turn brings its own internal complexity. And anyone who has ever worked in a cultural organisation can probably recall situations in which the organization had to deal with highly uncertain and ambiguous processes.

It has been, however, repeatedly criticized that the focus in cultural management research on organisations in the cultural sector is too much on business, managerial and administrative perspectives: “Arts and cultural management has frequently taken the easy road; it has too often blindly transferred the rules and guidelines from business management literature into art worlds without considering the special objectives of this field” (Kirchberg 2018: 226). Cultural management then tries to manage and control the ‘artistic chaos’, with the consequence of a rather limited understanding of the respective organisational complexity (Baecker 2009; Paquette 2019; van den Berg 2009). This does not mean, that the business-oriented perspective is not important for the management of organisations in the cultural sector, but observing the organisations mainly from this perspective does hardly help to understand how arts organisations handle the complex interplay of different logics and the highly dynamic process of producing individual arts productions (Stahl & Tröndle 2018). Based on these considerations the PhD project uses an exploratory case study design to develop a more complex understanding of the organisation of artistic productions.


  • Stahl, J. (2021). Organisieren von Kunst – Ein Seitenblick in die Organisationstheorie. In Christian Steinau, Christina Kockerd & Johanna Vocht (Eds.), Staging the Lab. Schriftenreihe des Cultural Policy Labs 1. Publication

  • Stahl, J., & Walter, S. (2019): Beyond Digital. In L. Pöllmann & C. Hermann (Hrsg.), Der digitale Kulturbetrieb. Strategien, Handlungsfelder und Best Practices des digitalen Kulturmanagements. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler. Publication
  • Stahl, J., & Tröndle, M. (2018): Toward a Practical Theory of Managing the Arts. In C. DeVereaux (Hrsg.), Arts and Cultural Management: Sense and Sensibilities in the State of the Field. London: Routledge. Publication

Science Communication


  • “Cultural Organizations in Transition – The Role of the Organization” (presenation at the 15th Conference of the European Sociological Association in Barcelona, August 2021)
  • “Organisierte (Un)Ordnung – Ethnographische Forschung in Kulturorganisationen” (presentation at the PhD colloquiums at the yearly conference of the Fachverband für Kulturmanagement, Düsseldorf, January 2020)
  • “How to Shape the Future of Arts Organizations” (keynote at the yearly conference of the Fachverband für Kulturmanagement, Hamburg, together with Steven Walter, January 2018)
Time to decide

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