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Balancing Valued Tradition With Innovation

Cancellieri, G., Ferriani, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-9669-3486 & Cattani, G. (2023). Balancing Valued Tradition With Innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review: MIT's journal of management research and ideas, 64(3), pp. 1-3.


Successful companies frequently face the challenge of updating a beloved old product. Italian opera companies face this dilemma every season. Many of the best-loved operas in the repertoire are more than 100 years old. The most devoted operagoers will have seen multiple productions of the same work and have a very clear, and usually conservative, notion of what constitutes a proper production. However, making no changes would limit opera’s contemporary cultural relevance. After interviewing 15 artistic directors of Italian opera houses and studying the ticket sales of 2,627 opera productions between 1989 and 2011, we found that the most successful opera houses strategically balance alterations to core and peripheral features of traditional operas across different customer segments. In so doing, they address the need for renewal while at the same time remaining sensitive to the heterogeneity of their audience. The findings offer several actionable insights for successfully navigating the innovation tradition tradeoff that companies across many industries must routinely face.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
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