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Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage

Elgar original reference

Edited by Ilde Rizzo and Anna Mignosa

Cultural heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. The Handbook on the Economics of Cultural Heritage outlines the contribution of economics to the design and analysis of cultural heritage policies and to addressing issues related to the conservation, management and enhancement of heritage.

Chapter 24: Performance of cultural heritage institutions

Víctor Fernández-Blanco, Luis César Herrero and Juan Prieto-Rodríguez

Subjects: development studies, tourism, economics and finance, cultural economics, public sector economics, environment, tourism, geography, tourism


The promotion, defence and conservation of cultural heritage are the aims of a wide number of institutions, both private and public that directly, or indirectly are managing increasing human, economic and financial resources. As we will see below, cultural heritage institutions are predominantly not market oriented, and the public sector is their main source of financing. They are often beyond the control of the market, which imposes efficient behaviour when competitive. Therefore, their internal logic does not ensure economic efficiency. However, achieving the best performance is crucial because public resources are limited nowadays and have a rising opportunity cost. Looking for the best performance, and if possible, discovering new ways to improve it, is an optimal strategy both for the financing and the operational institutions. The goal of this chapter is to analyse how the performance of these institutions can be evaluated, not to measure the different values associated with cultural heritage (see Throsby, 2001). We need to begin by defining the output of these institutions, i.e. those components of cultural heritage that can be measured and can be objects of efficiency analysis. The answer to these questions will determine what institutions can be evaluated because what is good (or bad) performance is not independent of the nature and objectives of the institutions involved.

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