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The Cat Herder: The Role and Function of the Agency Creative Director
Unformatted Document Text:  THE  CAT  HERDER     13   RQ2: Is the role of the advertising creative director consistent with the literature’s delineation of a creative leader? THE EMPIRICAL STUDY This paper is based on quasi-ethnographic studies conducted in 2010 and 2011 by three researchers in six agencies, in four different U.S. cities. It was a quasi-ethnography study because ethnographies are generally longitudinal, meaning data is collected at one site for several months. Two past ethnographies in advertising agencies collected data at a single site for three months (Alvesson 1994; 1998) and 10 months (Rosen 1988; 1991b). In the current study, data was collected from six different advertising agencies: three large agencies and three small agencies. The agencies were labeled L 1-3 and S 1-3 and are described further in Appendix 1. Multiple agencies were chosen over one agency in an effort to avoid over-generalizing the idiosyncrasies of one agency. In ethnographical work, it is important not to go in with a set agenda for findings or topics, but rather to flexibly allow for surprises and topics of interest to present themselves. Thus, the researchers for this study went in with loose topics, such as “the role of the creative director,” to provide a sufficient level of focus while also allowing for topics to be shaped through observations and interviews. Each ethnography included observations, scheduled and impromptu formal interviews and informal conversations, a generally accepted protocol for an organizational ethnography (Rosen 1991a). All three researchers recorded contemporaneous notes by hand that were later typed, in order to achieve more openness with subjects than a mechanical recording device would allow. The agencies selected for study were chosen based on a convenience sample of agencies in four different US advertising markets, in cities with reasonable proximity to the

Authors: Mallia, Karen., Windels, Kasey. and Broyles, Sheri.
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RQ2: Is the role of the advertising creative director consistent with the literature’s 
delineation of a creative leader?   
This paper is based on quasi-ethnographic studies conducted in 2010 and 2011 by 
three researchers in six agencies, in four different U.S. cities. It was a quasi-ethnography 
study because ethnographies are generally longitudinal, meaning data is collected at one site 
for several months. Two past ethnographies in advertising agencies collected data at a single 
site for three months (Alvesson 1994; 1998) and 10 months (Rosen 1988; 1991b). In the 
current study, data was collected from six different advertising agencies: three large agencies 
and three small agencies. The agencies were labeled L 1-3 and S 1-3 and are described 
further in Appendix 1. Multiple agencies were chosen over one agency in an effort to avoid 
over-generalizing the idiosyncrasies of one agency.  
In ethnographical work, it is important not to go in with a set agenda for findings or 
topics, but rather to flexibly allow for surprises and topics of interest to present themselves. 
Thus, the researchers for this study went in with loose topics, such as “the role of the creative 
director,” to provide a sufficient level of focus while also allowing for topics to be shaped 
through observations and interviews. Each ethnography included observations, scheduled and 
impromptu formal interviews and informal conversations, a generally accepted protocol for 
an organizational ethnography (Rosen 1991a). All three researchers recorded 
contemporaneous notes by hand that were later typed, in order to achieve more openness 
with subjects than a mechanical recording device would allow.  
The agencies selected for study were chosen based on a convenience sample of 
agencies in four different US advertising markets, in cities with reasonable proximity to the 

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