Elizabeth Long Lingo, Nexus Work: Brokerage in Creative Projects
This study examined how music producers manage their creative projects. We use the term “nexus work” to refer to individuals who are involved in synthesis or integration, rather than just communication or transference of ideas. With an ethnographic investigation of 23 independent music producers in the Nashville country music industry, we examined how producers in the brokerage role fostered the integration of others’ contributions throughout four phases of the creative process.
We discovered that ambiguity was an inherent part of the collective creative process and identified three types: (1) an ambiguous quality metric (What makes a hit or constitutes success?); (2) ambiguous occupational jurisdictions (Whose claim of expertise entitles them to control the process?); and (3) an ambiguous transformation process (How should the work be done?). We show when each type of ambiguity became acute in the creative process and identify the practices producers used to leverage their brokerage role depending on the type of ambiguity confronted. In doing so, producers moved between two ideal conceptions of brokerage—as strategic actors extracting advantage from their position and as relational experts connecting others to foster creativity and innovation—to foster a collective creative outcome.
See the link below for a .pdf of Lingo and O’Mahony’s report on Nexus Work: