Research from the University's School of Management has found that even a marginal increase in cooperation between small creative industries and their suppliers and buyers can result in significant financial benefits.
The study, carried out by Dr Phil Tomlinson, looked at data collected from a small-scale creative sector, namely UK studio potteries.
The findings suggest that a marginal increase in cooperation in this sector could lead studio potters to a positive effect on turnover of 17 per cent, while a greater level of engagement in collaboration could lead to an 18 per cent increase.
The research found that cooperation between studio potters, their suppliers and their buyers over different types of clay, glaze, designs, marketing and general information sharing resulted in the design of products with a greater perceived value in the consumer's eye, resulting in the ability to command a higher price.
Dr Tomlinson said: "Increasingly, the UK's creative sectors are seen as a source of vibrancy, wealth and new job creation, particularly in regions which have suffered large-scale de-industrialisation.
"While for many the arts are regarded as having an 'intrinsic' value beyond pure economic measures, for the majority of small-scale artists the commercial sustainability of their business is an important priority in facilitating their current and future work.
"Artists often work in isolated environments, and this study not only demonstrated that cooperation can improve business prospects, but also assessed some of the barriers currently in place that are preventing cooperation."
Some of the barriers to cooperation found by the study were the difficulties studio potters experienced in finding suitable partners, and also the financial constraints they felt when joining networks.
Dr Tomlinson said: "Our research showed that free opportunities do exist for studio potters to engage with each other, so it might be that these opportunities need to be better communicated so that they can be more widely accessed.
"Equally, it might be that people working in this sector are not aware of the benefits of greater cooperation or are suspicious of it, so the governance of creative networks is an important consideration in overcoming these fears."
The next stages of this research include a more qualitative approach to understanding the barriers and benefits of cooperation, and a study of other sectors for comparison across different types of artistics.
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More information: www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02692170903239861