Idea development in a transnational field: A Dutch case study

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished abstract


The development of TV program ideas is increasingly taking place in a transnational context. Around the world, independent TV production companies are owned by multinational conglomerates and the trade in TV formats facilitates the exchange and integration of ideas, production practices and standards across borders (Chalaby 2016). Whereas industry members themselves celebrate creative synergy and inspiration as the key benefits of transnationalisation, scholars see the rise of a cosmopolitan elite of media workers who share their international orientation, practices, and standards (Kuipers 2011; 2012). Recently, scholarly attention for the actual effects of transnationalisation on TV production organizations, executives, practices and content has grown (Baltruschat 2010; Esser 2016; Havens 2014). This paper focuses on the process of idea development in the transnational field of TV production. How does the development of TV program ideas actually come about in this so-called transnational field? To what extent is idea development inherently transnational? And how is this transnational orientation concretized in everyday work practices?

Data for this study were collected during 10 weeks of participant observation and interviews at a Dutch independent production company that was founded in 2018 by two Dutch TV executives together with the American production and distribution giant MGM. Processes and practices of developing, pitching and pre-producing non-scripted entertainment shows were observed. The analysis is multimodal, combining insights gained from the interviews with those of the participant observation.

The results show how foreign ownership, the global format trade, and international personal networks in the production industry shape the selection, development and sales of new program ideas. By analysing one project in further detail, this study shows how the development of entertainment programming is situated in a complex force field in which not only the global market and international ownership structures, but also personal networks and local production contexts affect the output of production companies. We argue that transnationalisation encompasses more than ownership structures and format adaptations; it is deeply and banally rooted in everyday practices in the TV production industry. However, the celebratory accounts on the benefits of transnationalisation, articulated by managers and executives alike, are countered by a complex forcefield that is both locally and globally situated.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019
EventIAMCR 2019: Communication, Technology and Human Dignity: Disputed Rights, Contested Truths: Communication, Technology and Human Dignity: Disputed Rights, Contested Truths - Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 7 Jul 201911 Jul 2019


ConferenceIAMCR 2019: Communication, Technology and Human Dignity: Disputed Rights, Contested Truths
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