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Many aspects of the motion-picture industry and its constituent companies are dissimilar to those observable in advanced-technology industries and firms. For instance, company longevity does not represent a consistent concern across the two organisational contexts. In the advanced-technology company for example, one new-product innovation – which is expected to generate financial returns to the firm – is insufficient for the company to be successful. Rather, a stream of new product innovations is required. By contrast with the independent production company of this case, each new film – which is expected to generate financial returns to the principals – is sufficient for the company to be successful. Any subsequent new films involving the firm’s participants will be produced by a different independent company. As another instance, people’s learning is expected to have different contributors and beneficiaries across the two organizational contexts. In the advanced-technology company, for example, each new product innovation provides an opportunity for participants on the project team to learn and acquire experience, and this same company intends to retain such participants, hence, benefit from their increased experience on the next project. By contrast with the independent production company, each new film provides an opportunity for participants on the project team to learn and acquire this experience also, but this same company has little or no expectation of retaining such participants, and hence, benefitting from their increased experience in the next project.
Experience is paramount in the motion-picture industry. Generally, on film projects, budgets are very tight, and schedules are very demanding. People are hired largely based on their experience and are expected to perform well immediately when called to do so. There is negligible slack time or margin for learning through trial and error, but experienced people learn exactly through trial and error. Because experience is valued so highly and film-production houses have such short time horizons, entry into the industry is very difficult for most people.
Further, the role played by schools and colleges is minimal in this industry. Some skills and techniques can be learned and refined through formal education (e.g., acting schools, theatre, film degrees), but the majority come through direct experience. Mentoring plays an important role. True, the film business focuses heavily on exploitation over exploration. Yet success of the industry as a whole is critically dependent upon learning and exploration overtime.