Posts by Ian Baxter

Director of Scottish Confucius Institute for Business & Communication, Heriot-Watt University & Professor of Historic Environment Management, UCS Ian Baxter originally trained as an archaeologist at Edinburgh University, and completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge investigating strategic management within heritage organisations. He has worked for a number of Universities, including the University of Cambridge (as Director of Public and Professional Programmes), and Glasgow Caledonian University (as Head of Department of Management and Director of Business School Postgraduate Programmes). Ian has spent over 20 years working and researching with a variety of heritage and tourism organisations throughout the UK. He was closely involved in the development of the national Heritage Counts programme by the Government’s conservation agency, English Heritage, which established the value and impact of the historic environment and heritage organisations to England (in terms of employment, visitors, quality of life, etc.). More recently he continued his involvement in heritage auditing through the development of the Scottish Government’s Historic Environment Audit programme with Historic Scotland, where he completed a mapping exercise of conservation and heritage-related organisations in Scotland. He has also managed a variety of tourism development consultancy projects, including the national visitor attractions survey with VisitScotland, and an assessment of organisational support needs for non-governmental and voluntary/charitable organisations in the Scottish historic environment sector. His research interests are policy development, methodologies for establishing historic environment and heritage ‘values’, heritage foresight / scenario planning and tourism/visitor attraction management. He is a member of a number of professional committees, including the ICOMOS-UK Cultural Tourism Committee (a UNESCO advisory committee) and has previously served on the National Trust for Scotland’s Archaeology and Economic & Community Development Advisory Panels and English Heritage’s Research Advisory Panel. He’s has edited the ‘Cultural Trends’ journal Policy Research Notes section (Routledge); the policy research information bulletin on behalf of the UK Heritage Research Group (UKHRG); and the new resources section for the US-based ‘Heritage & Society’ journal (Left Coast Press). He is a director of The Heritage Alliance, and the Built Environment Forum Scotland. Ian is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a Practitioner of the Institute for Archaeologists, an Affiliate Member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and tweets about heritage and tourism.

Academic journals: International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Journal Summary: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum addresses the key question: How can the institution of the museum become more inclusive? The journal brings together academics, curators, museum and public administrators, cultural policy makers, and research students to engage in discussions about the historic character and future shape of the museum. It is run by the Inclusive Museum Research Network.

Publisher: Common Ground Journals

Website: http://ijz.cgpublisher.com/

Access: Subscription; some open access

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Behaviour change as strategy

The Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) recently ran a workshop to explore aspects of prioritisation within the heritage sector. This was related to a Historic Environment Scotland work stream arising from a pledge within the last SNP Manifesto to explore funding priorities for public monies within the historic built environment, in order to ensure the dwindling pot of available public monies go to where they are most needed / effective. The workshop also allied to a decade-old collaborative thought experiment which I have been undertaking in a slightly ad hoc way with Dr Simon Gilmour, Director of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. This has, over an extended period, sought to investigate scenario planning approaches and long-term horizon scanning (sometimes called futurology) for the sector.  The use and applicability of such futures-oriented approaches are intimately linked through policy direction and strategic organisational intentions to funding streams and decision-making mechanisms.  They also try to understand the how and why organisations behave in the way they do, responding to external drivers affecting their operational and policy environments. This in turn affects the way they interact with each other; and collectively across organisations, the way the sector as as whole focuses its attention on specific issues at certain points in time.

Details of the recent workshop and the resultant discussion are reported elsewhere via the usual BEFS communication channels, but in reflecting on the day, and via wider discussion within the workshop co-ordinating team, it is worth trying to step back and consider macro-challenges which will influence the prioritisation debate as it moves forward. Bringing together the sector to try and create a matrix of funding priorities sounds entirely reasonable as an effective tactical response within a wider strategic movement to prioritise what we do with an asset base which we cannot realistically look after in its entirety. Sector wide applicability of a single tool, or even agreement of a single approach to using a flexible toolkit in organisations with different aims and priorities, divergent stakeholder views, and widely varied interests in sub-sets of the heritage asset base may be too big a challenge to contemplate in practice though. But, if theoretically it is a good idea, what really stops us from doing it?

The reasons we can’t are complex and relate to organisational and stakeholder autonomy, and a set of behaviours, both individual and organisational, which can hardwire nervousness of the unacceptability of monolithic behaviour; instil worry about a democratic deficit in decision-making; exacerbate tensions to do with perceptions of exclusivity and inclusivity; and worry about the prospect of change with foreseen or unforeseen consequences that we don’t like the sound of, even before we know what it might be.

Individually and collectively within the sector we already recognise a wide set of macro level issues both as consideration or sometimes as threat: these include issues like climate change, stakeholder inclusion and emergent ideas like intergenerational equity. We are already thinking and discussing the ways in which they may affect the historic environment generally and how we can incorporate them or mitigate against them, and thus protect assets we want to save and/or pass to the next generation. We also already conceptualise and manage the micro issues, on a daily basis within our personal and organisational forms – as professionals and agents / having agency within a specific sector forming part of a bigger ecosystem of planning and managing the environment around us. The mid-range, however, that gap between the big concepts and the micro objects/actions – the realm of behavioural systems – is one that we still struggle with, and I would argue that in order to move things forward collective both better understanding of behaviours, and subtle behaviour change is perhaps the next strategic challenge to engage with.

What do I mean by ‘behaviour change’ as a strategic approach? Well, listening to the various stakeholders expressing their views in the prioritisation discussion, I was struck by the thoughtful and deeply analytical ways in which all of the individuals present engaged with the process of sifting ideas on the heritage asset base and its need, and by consequence where/how we might prioritise that need. Alternative views on issues were chewed over; viewpoints were balanced; and ultimately, consensus was reached collectively within the room, perhaps surprisingly, with many items flagged for higher or lower prioritisation. What we didn’t do however was fully articulate why we individually, organisationally, and ultimately collectively, took particular stances, and how those stances might have changed or might change in any period of time. We didn’t put ourselves in others’ shoes (professionally), as we perhaps assumed we understood the stance of an architect versus a planner, or an archaeologist versus an advocator implicitly. I would argue that assumed implicit understanding or tacit knowledge holds us back, as our professional and organisational identities still mask and influence what we say or are prepared to say to foreground motivations for our behaviour in the present. For example, why as an academic in the workshop did I de-prioritise the funding for academic study in the matrix? Why did nobody challenge me on this? What was I thinking? Was I betraying my own profession, or was I making a stance as part of a projected persona, trying to be some kind of enfant terrible of the afternoon, disrespecting something I should be defending to the hilt?

I am not saying we need to laboriously psychoanalyse the way we talk about and respond in our professional consideration of heritage in workshop situations, but I do think that we might explore our behaviour in order to better recognise and articulate our individual and corporate behaviours.  In essence we need to be much clearer about the ‘mid range’ linkage between individual stakeholders and the big issues.   We need to be much more open about the tacit knowledge we use, that which isn’t codified. We need to re-identify and flag the drivers which influence us individually and corporately, and how these have changed and will change again.  Organisational and professional expectations (whether it is related to professional standards or institutional mission) affect subtly the way in which individuals collectively discuss, disagree and arrive at consensus.  These influences change over time, and what was foremost in our individual or organisational mindsets at the time of writing Our Place in Time (for example), may not be the most pressing issues to address now.  I don’t think we would have had a workshop outcome of consensus in the same way a couple of years ago, or longer – so what has caused us to behave in this way right now?

Discussion abounded in the room about what we did care about and what is of less interest. I think we need to be bolder and braver about admitting what and why things do and don’t concern us any more, and how the concerns change subtly but relatively quickly from one year to the next.  A broader consideration of the way in which we frame our responses to consultations, and foregrounding the current drivers which affect the way in which we engage with heritage issues would, I think, help to bridge the micro and the macro – to build and articulate better the ‘mid range’ thinking which links the consideration of the day to day operational challenges against the grand challenges which the wider world faces, and where we try to deploy effective management of the historic environment in order to add value to the world we live in, and explain fully the decisions we make now for those that come after.

Additional note 24/1/19 – This blog post also appears on the Built Environment Forum Scotland website: https://www.befs.org.uk/latest/behaviour-change-as-strategy/ 

Academic journals: International Journal of Religious Tourism & Pilgrimage

Journal Summary:The International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage (IJRTP) deals with all aspects of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage. The journal was founded in 2013 by an international group of researchers (the Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage Expert Group). The journal is published by the Dublin Institute of Technology, Cathal Brugha Campus, Dublin, Ireland. The journal takes an interdisciplinary international approach and includes all aspects of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage. It is inclusive of all denominations, religions, faiths and spiritual practices. While the main emphasis is on primary research articles, it also welcomes suitably relevant discussion papers, research / review pieces, industry focused case studies and evaluations, management guides and reports, economic evaluations, book reviews, announcements of forthcoming meetings etc.

Publisher: Dublin Institute of Technology

Website: https://arrow.dit.ie/ijrtp/

Access: Open access

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Academic journals: International Journal of Intangible Heritage

Journal Summary:The International Journal of Intangible Heritage was first published in 2006 in response to the rapidly growing academic and professional interests in the intangible heritage, particularly following the widespread ratification by States in all parts of the world of UNESCO’s 2003 Intangible Heritage Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The IJIH is a refereed academic and professional English language journal dedicated to the promotion of the understanding of all aspects of the intangible heritage, and the communication of research and examples of good professional practice.

Publisher: National Folk Museum of Korea

Website: http://www.ijih.org/

Access: Open access

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Academic journals: International Journal of Heritage Studies

Journal Summary: The International Journal of Heritage Studies (IJHS) is the interdisciplinary academic, refereed journal for scholars and practitioners with a common interest in heritage. The Journal encourages debate over the nature and meaning of heritage as well as its links to memory, identities and place. Articles may include issues emerging from Heritage Studies, Museum Studies, History, Tourism Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Memory Studies, Cultural Geography, Law, Cultural Studies, and Interpretation and Design.

Publisher: Routledge

Website: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjhs20/current

Access: Subscription; some open access

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Academic journals: International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

Journal Summary: The International Journal of Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality Research focuses on building bridges in theory, research, and practice across the inter-related fields of culture, tourism and hospitality.
It encourages articles that advance theory and research on the roles of culture, tourism, and hospitality in the lives of individuals, households, and organisations. This includes the perspectives and interpretations of all stakeholders including participants and providers of tourism and hospitality services. The journal especially seeks to nurture interdisciplinary multicultural work among sociological, psychological, geographical, consumer, leisure, marketing, travel and tourism, hospitality, and sport and entertainment researchers.
IJCTHR covers: Tourist culture and behaviour; Marketing practices in tourism and hospitality, and how this relates to cultures; Consumer behaviour and trends in tourism and hospitality; Destination culture and destination marketing; International tourism and hospitality

Publisher: Emerald

Website: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/journal/ijcthr

Access: Subscription; some open access

Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed

Should St Peter’s Cardross ruin be added to the national portfolio of heritage properties in care?

BBC News article

Following the collapse of the project to turn the ruins of St Peter’s Seminary at Cardross into an arts and cultural centre by arts organisation NVA, the future for the site has been looking very uncertain.  The site is still owned and managed (i.e. secured for health and safety) by the Archdiocese of Glasgow, who starkly admitted at the weekend to BBC News that the site is an ‘albatross around our neck’.

The site comes with significant conservation challenges, and it is a great shame that the development plans which had reached an advanced point were unable to proceed.  Love the building or loathe it, it is arguably an iconic site, arguable moreso in its ruined state with so many possible human responses to it. Ruins and their treatment have been back in the spotlight of late – whether via urbex (highlighted by Bradley Garrett); academic consideration such as De Silvey’s ‘Curated Decay‘; or the British Library’s recent consideration of literary responses to ruins.  Much has been written about the Cardross site itself, including a dedicated volume published by Historic Environment Scotland during the time of the most recent rejuvenation proposals.

If ever there was time for serious consideration about the site being an addition to the national portfolio of monuments held in care for the nation either via Guardianship or direct ownership of Scottish Ministers, then this is it.  The state via its national heritage agencies still (I would argue) has a moral duty to act as owner of last resort for important sites such as St Peter’s.   It is understood from the BBC News article that the Scottish Government (I assume via Historic Environment Scotland) is currently considering the site’s potential future. What better and fitting addition to the Historic Scotland catalogue of sites, which includes so many other religious buildings such as the great Border abbeys, than a 20th century building which can currently find no further use than as a ruin but which plays an ongoing role in the public psyche.  Just as English Heritage has been reinventing its approach to the national heritage estate in England, the opportunity in Cardross for Historic Environment Scotland to do something original at a ‘similar but different’ kind of site is intriguing – I hope that we may yet see the site as a new ‘property in care’ for Scotland.