Public value of cultural heritages–towards a better understanding of citizen’s valuation of Austrian museums

Birgit Grüb, Sebastian Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In times of scarce public funding, organisations that receive public funds face increasing pressure to legitimise themselves. Thus, museums must also legitimise themselves to receive public funds. They have to demonstrate that they provide a valuable contribution to society. Is the preservation of cultural goods a sufficient benefit for society or are museums valuable to citizens in any other way? To evaluate whether citizens see a benefit in museums and value museums, the concept of stakeholder-oriented public value is applied to museums. In contrast to former public sector reform models (like New Public Management), which have focused less on society and viewed citizens more as consumers and passive recipients of services, the public value concept adopts a citizen perspective in the sense of community governance. In order to analyse the interests of the citizens as main stakeholders of the services of the public sector, we conducted an explorative study in Austria. We developed a questionnaire to retrieve the interests of the citizens, obtaining 281 data sets for analysis. The study assessed the value that museums have for citizens as part of society. The findings show that, for the most part, citizens confirm that museums are valuable to them for several perspectives, namely the individual, societal and economic perspective. Previous research has mainly regarded the different types of values–individual, societal and economic–as separate categories. Our findings highlight that these specific values are interrelated. Our findings can inform policy recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-358
Number of pages22
JournalCultural Trends
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • citizens
  • culture
  • museums
  • public value
  • stakeholder-oriented value
  • ‌Austria


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