(Summary) Mentoring and Change in Cultural Organizations: The Experience of Directors in British National Museums

Safiah Sulaiman

Mentoring and Change in Cultural Organizations: The Experience of Directors in British National Museums

Author: Jonathan Paquette

(The author retains copyright of the thesis)

This paper by Jonathan Paquette investigates how mentoring plays a pivotal role in institutional regeneration. Sixteen qualitative interviews of museum directors in British National Museums were conducted to demonstrate an understanding as to why and how mentoring plays a part in arts leadership. The interview sample comes from nine men and seven women who hold senior positions in the museum.

Paquette acknowledges that there is increasing pressure for museums to be socially relevant and economically viable in the past decade, and that the government cultural policy plays a huge influence to the agenda for organizational change. It is then reiterated that mentoring is a crucial method to pave the way for innovative leadership and to address the cultural challenges of museums in recent times.

To provide the framework of the research, the paper categorises mentoring into sociological, managerial and vocational aspect. Sociologically, mentors come from position of power and can provide the social capital that is beneficial for career progression. Managerial literature emphasises on formal mentoring, which can be a tool in succession management. From the professional viewpoint, mentoring can be part of career development. However, the limitation to such premise is that all three angles are based on the concept of only one mentee per mentor, and that due to the intergenerational dynamics, there might be inflexibility of ideas and clash of opinions.

From the findings, mentors often encourage their protégés in their agendas for change, even though mentoring typically fossilises existing mindsets and behaviours. There are also instances whereby a new professional in an organization seek guidance from a mentor of a different occupational group.

To conclude, the thesis acknowledges that more research is needed to better assess the potential of mentoring since an aging workforce and high turnover rate could hinder the sustainability of an organization.