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Brian Kavanagh graduated with a degree in classical music performance from Trinity College Dublin in 1994, 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. He returned to Europe in the late 1990s, completing an M.Sc. in Music Technology at the University of Limerick in 1998 before taking up a position as a web programmer/manager at Creative Intermedia in Dublin. He relocated to London in 2005 to complete a second master’s degree (MA in Interactive Media) at Goldsmiths College and has lived in London ever since. He concluded his formal education in 2015, graduating with a PhD from Imperial College Business School where he was a member of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research Group.

Brian has extensive industry experience, having worked as a web developer/programmer 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. His photographic series ‘Portraits of Iran’ featured in a solo exhibition in King’s College London’s Bush House in 2019. A select number of photographs from this series were recently featured in book titled ‘From a Persian Kitchen’ (Little Brown Publishing, London 2018). Finally, as a classical guitarist, he spent two years teaching 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. 

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Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Disruptive technology: my research considers the implications of disruptive technology for industry sectors and the organisations that operate in them. Specifically, it focuses on how organisations innovate in response to the challenges and opportunities they face in a constantly shifting digital ecosystem.
  • Identity theory: investigating at the intersection of innovation and identity theory, my work extends thinking on the identity construct by consider the role of organisational identity and the collective identity of industries in enabling and constraining innovation in periods of radical technological change and field decline.   
  • Industry fieldwork: I work with professional nonprofit arts organisations to better understand how these organisations manage market and aesthetic logics while adapting digital technology to reimagine relationships with existing audiences and to reach new audiences

My work investigates organisational-level innovation in periods of radical technological change and changes in the competitive landscape. Specifically, it considers how classical music performing organisations are innovating to remain relevant in an attention economy in which audiences are increasingly fragmented and one in which many symphony orchestras and opera theatre companies are struggling to survive.

My fieldwork has resulted in a rich dataset through a series of ongoing interviews and observations at over twenty professional orchestras and opera theatre companies worldwide, including the New York based Metropolitan Opera, the London Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. I am currently working on a forthcoming book publication that investigates the relationship between technology and the aesthetic and market logics that define these organisations and the classical music sector more generally (Emerald Publishing, 2021).


MA Digital Asset and Media Management

  • Programme convenor
  • Lecturer
  • Seminar lead

Selected publications

  • Kavanagh, B., Phillips, N., & Perkmann, M., Collective identity and the limits of innovation: a review and research agenda, Innovation, Organisations and Management, Routledge, April 2020.
  • Kavanagh, B, Reimagining Classical Music Organisations for the Digital Age, In C. Dromey & J. Haferkorn (Eds.), The classical music industry (pp. 126–138). Routledge.
  • Kavanagh, B. and Phillips, N., Discord in the ‘museum of music’: understanding identity struggle following field declines, Strategic Organisations (Sage), October 2020.