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Title: Socio-cultural impacts of museums for their local communities : the case of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter
Author: Hutchison, Fiona Catherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 0339
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2013
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In the English museums sector, an impetus for impact assessment stems from an internal ethos towards producing positive impacts for the public. Furthermore, as institutions largely dependent on national and local government funding, museums have increasingly been called to demonstrate their impacts to policy makers. Economic impact and valuation procedures are employed to help meet these demands. However, consideration of non-economic impacts has not kept pace. Reasons include the contested priorities in the sector, a fluctuating policy landscape and too exclusive a focus on theoretical debates rather than empirical research. Indeed, a great deal of attention and time has already been allocated to impact assessment with little accumulation of evidence at a museum-specific or national level. Accordingly, this research set out to reveal a detailed understanding of socio-cultural impacts of museums for their local communities. A thorough meta-synthesis of nineteen academic and non-academic sources, revealed the limitations of previous studies. These limitations relate to sampling, method choice, sophistication of analysis and transparency in reporting. Often, only potential impacts have amounted. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM), in the southwest city of Exeter offered a suitable research site for this large-scale study. Drop and Collect administered household surveys ensured the elicitation of views from residents across the city. A range of statistical analysis techniques were applied to cross-sectional samples (n=435, n=384). The main contribution of this research is to demonstrate a replicable approach to eliciting views from the public regarding the impacts of their local museum. Future evaluation can follow this model which is neither focused upon economic impacts, nor arrives at a monetised valuation. Cluster Analysis proves a preferable way of grouping the public rather than traditional segmentations pertaining to socio-demographic or behavioural characteristics. Furthermore, socio-cultural impacts are effectively assessed, monitored and prioritised through Gap Analysis. Factor Analysis reveals latent constructs of Personal-fulfilment, Objects and their Surrounding Narratives, Self-actualisation, Learning and Networked Leisure drive these impacts. Therefore, this research meets the museum management challenge of finding a suitable design for assessment of impacts in relation to different communities.
Supervisor: Coles, Tim; Bailey, Adrian Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cultural Management ; Museum Studies ; Cultural Policy ; Quantitative Methods ; Cluster Analysis