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The Heritage GameEconomics, Policy, and Practice$
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Alan Peacock and Ilde Rizzo

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199213177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199213177.001.0001

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Some economics of museums and galleries

Some economics of museums and galleries

(p.90) 5 Some economics of museums and galleries
The Heritage Game

Alan Peacock (Contributor Webpage)

Ilde Rizzo

Oxford University Press

Economics tries not only to describe how enterprises and public institutions are run but also to explain why they act in particular ways. This is a necessary condition for being able to predict whether their behaviour conforms with the expectations of those who fund them. It is rarely satisfactory to generalize about behaviour from results of questionnaires to those ‘under the microscope’, which is particularly true in the case of museums and galleries (MGs) where directors have to be left with so much discretion in defining where the ‘public interest’ lies. This chapter's starting point, following Bruno Frey, is to look at the ‘outcome’ of their behaviour as controllers of stocks of historical artefacts. A striking, observed difference between commercial enterprises and MGs is that the former's ‘success’ depends on keeping stocks at a minimum and generating revenue from its sale, whereas the latter judge theirs in terms of the acquisition and retention of artefacts and not their disposal. Whether the MGs thereby act ‘in the public interest’ in doing so, is a controversial matter.

Keywords:   behavioural models, Bruno Frey, revealed preference, stocks and flows, public interest, generating revenue

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