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Leading modern arts and cultural organizations. What roles does it take?

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The literature on leadership, non-profit, and arts management have discussed many topics in relation to the leading of arts and cultural organizations (ACOs) such as leadership style or leadership structure. The question concerning what today’s leaders in the arts and cultural sector actually do, how they interpret their roles and which implicit theories and concepts underlie their behavior has been less investigated. This paper aims to further understand leadership in the nonprofit arts and cultural sector by investigating the management roles that leaders take up. Thereby, we draw on Mintzberg's Management Roles and approach research with a qualitative design, conducting in-depth interviews for data collection. Our findings suggest that leaders in ACOs mostly take up roles related to interpersonal exchange and decision-making as well as, increasingly, self-leadership and self-management roles that we cluster under a (new) “personal” category, which is not foreseen in the traditional roles proposed by Mintzberg.