This thesis investigates the strategic decision-making practices (SDM) in music industry micro-enterprises in the United States. Although a significant body of literature has examined the SDM processes in high-tech firms, manufacturers and other specialty industries, very little has been learned about strategic decision-making within the music industry. Eight cases were used to look at what influences the decision-making practice, and how. Two decisions from each of four firms that are directly involved in the marketing and promotion of recorded music product were chosen. The primary source data came from forty-three interviews by thirty-six respondents from firms that were directly involved in the decision-making practice. Direct observation and note taking on company culture and employee interaction, analysis of artefacts in the form of company emails, websites, social media sites and magazines, and other items referenced in the interviews were also used as data sources.
Bourdieu’s theory of practice was used to conceptualise the decision-making as interplay between social, cultural, symbolic and economic capital, habitus, and field. The principle argument developed in this thesis is consistent with Bourdieu’s concept of recognition, and explores the desire for actors in this field to make strategic decisions that will position themselves better to either acquire and/or use capital that will lead to further power and positioning within the field. The primary practice was often dictated by the actor’s concern for reputation and how other individuals perceived them and their respective firms. Instances of explicit and implicit exploitation of objectified symbolic capital were seen as a necessary practice to achieving firm objectives. This research also incorporates previous research on strategic decision-making in other micro-enterprises, including the use of past experiences, personal biases, heuristics and intuitive behaviours, as they are a product of the relationship between the habitus, capital and field. A Bourdieusian lens allowed for the surfacing of the complex reflexive interplay among Bourdieu’s practice theory and the theoretical constructs of strategic decision-making, which led to a deep description of the influences on these practices in music industry micro-enterprises while further developing his ideas about the field of cultural production. By bringing both of these nuances to the forefront, my analysis leads to a contribution to the decision-making literature for micro-enterprises and music industry theorists while arguing for a repositioning of the popular music industry within the large-scale production of culture, as one characterised by high amounts of symbolic capital, not low amounts as Bourdieu (1996) contends. In addition, I will argue that in order to transform one capital to another, for example, social or economic capital into symbolic capital, there is a need for a field-specific capital. In this case, ‘music industry capital’ is used as a negotiating aid when agents vie for power and positioning within the music industry.