• Suffolk Professor Confronts Digital Age Key Topics

1/4/2010

The digital revolution has caused widespread upheaval of the cultural economy, prompting creators of content from journalism to television programs and video games to grapple with their identity, the structure of their work and how to eke out a living.

In a paper published in a leading international business journal, Professor Robert DeFillippi notes that creative content producers have always been less focused on pay and benefits and “are also among the workers most likely to accept exploitative labor practices in order to get to do what they love to do.” Even as media workers accept sharp losses in job security and frequent shifts in who owns their company or who calls the shots on a project, there is still more whiplash: They now create content alongside gamers, amateur photographers and others in user community,  DeFillippi writes in the International Journal of Business Media Studies, creative workers “must now adopt more ambiguous project work roles as content co-creators.”

DeFillippi studies key questions of our age: the impact of ebooks, paid web content, and smaller TV audiences on entertainment programs. He has looked at digital transformation of the music industry digital rights and royalties in Hollywood. But the answers are elusive.  “We’re much better at history than forecasting,” said DeFillippi, professor of strategy and international business and a director of the Center for Innovation and Change Leadership.  “All of this is in play and I don’t know how it’s going to shake out,” he said.

DeFillippi, who holds a master’s and a doctorate from Yale University, also recently published the best scholarship from a 2008 conference he hosted on “Multi-organizational partnerships, alliances and networks,” in the International Journal of Strategic Business Alliances.

Regarding media workers, DeFillippi found that many of the pressing challenges are more acute for a generation for media workers that did not grow up using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. But there will be long-term effects of the reconfiguration of work into a landscape of independent or loosely affiliated independent contractors because they won’t have the strong identity with a profession and shared experience with co-workers of those who preceded them.
 
After initially being more open to being part of virtual project teams, younger workers may not endure. DeFillippi predicts: “Media businesses will continue to devour most of their young creative project workers who will continue to exit media businesses in the middle years of their careers as the economic and social demands of family and personal security take precedence.”

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