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Dr Brian Kavanagh

Kavanagh_BrianLecturer in Digital Innovation

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1421 
Address Department of Digital Humanities
Room S3.26, Strand Building
King’s College London
London WC2R 2LS 





Brian Kavanagh graduated with a degree in classical music performance (classical guitar) from Trinity College Dublin in 1993, after which he relocated to the US where he worked as a media manager in the Image and Sound Acquisition Group at the Microsoft Corporation headquarters in the city of Seattle.

He returned to Europe in the late 1990s, completing an M.Sc. in Music Technology at the University of Limerick in 1998 and an MA in Interactive Media at Goldsmiths College in 2006. He concluded his formal education in 2015 when he graduated with a PhD from Imperial College Business School.

Brian has extensive industry experience, having worked as a web developer and digital manager at several for-profit and nonprofit organisations, including the Tate Gallery and the Bridgeman Art Library in London. His industry experience informs both his research and teaching activities.

Outside of academia, Brian has developed several interdisciplinary skills as a musician, photographer and filmmaker. He was recently commissioned by the London-based media agency Furniss Lawton to produce a film that explores aspects of Iranian culture. Meanwhile, several photographs from his series ‘Portraits of Iran’ will feature in a forthcoming book about Iran (Little Brown Books, September 6th, 2018). Finally, as a classical guitarist, he has taught at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and has won several prizes, including the Arthur Darley Memorial Gold Medal at the Dublin Conservatoire of Music.

Research Interests and PhD supervision
  • Disruptive Innovation Theory: my work investigates how nonprofit arts organisations are responding to the opportunities and challenges that digital innovation presents to them. I am particularly interested in how Christensen’s (1997) original disruptive innovation theory is being stretched to help explain the disruptive and sustaining effects of the Internet and mobile networks on a vast array of institutional fields and the organisations that operate in them.
  • Organisational Theory: I am a member of the European Group of Organisational Studies (EGOS), an organisation that investigates various approaches to organisational analysis.
  • Organisational Identity: My research extends thinking on organisational identity by considering the types of ‘identity work’ that organisations perform to overcome potential barriers to organisational-level change in response to exogenous shocks (e.g. economic, technological, social, cultural shifts).

My research investigates how organisations manage change and innovate in periods of radical technological change. Specifically, it focuses on how classical music performing organisations are adapting digital technology to introduce innovative practices aimed at reaching new audiences at a time of uncertainty for many of these ensembles.  My fieldwork has generated a rich dataset through interviews and observations at over twenty professional orchestras and opera theatre companies worldwide, including the New York based Metropolitan Opera, the London Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. I also worked closely with the Arts Council of England and the Association of British Orchestra plus innovation experts operating in the cultural sector, most notably the former Head of Digital at the Lincoln Centre in New York, Elizabeth Scott.

Selected publications
  • Kavanagh, B, Reimagining Classical Music Organisations for the Digital Age, In ‘The Classical Music Industry’ (book), Routledge, May 2018.
  • Kavanagh, B. and Phillips, N., Discord in the ‘museum of music’: understanding identity struggle following field declines, Strategic Organisations (Sage), submitted, reviewed, and undergoing final review in June 2018.
  • Kavanagh, B., Digital Innovation at the London Symphony Orchestra in Response to New Technology and Changing Stakeholder Expectations, Innovation, Organisations and Management, Imperial College Business School, October 2018.

MA Digital Asset and Media Management

  • Seminar lead: Introduction to Digital Asset and Media Management (core module)
  • Lecturer and convenor: Digital Asset and Media Management in Practice


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