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Cirque du Soleil: Can it Burn Brighter?

JSME vol 1 issue 2

Author(s): Robert J. David and Amir Motamedi, McGill University

Abstract:
With its unique hybrid of music, dance, and acrobatics, the Cirque du Soleil has created a new category of live entertainment. In the process, it has been both an artistic and commercial success. But the Cirque is reaching the limits of its current format, and is searching for ways to renew itself both commercially and creatively. This case study chronicles the rise of the Cirque from a ragtag band of street performers in small-town Quebec to a multi-million dollar, worldwide phenomenon. It allows students to analyze how the interplay between firm resources and capabilities can lead to unique a core competence and a strong competitive advantage. The case then describes the various forms of diversification that are being contemplated, and the difficulties involved in seeing these through. This permits students to consider how strong core competencies in one domain might, or might not, apply to new lines of business. Throughout, the case maintains the tension between commercial and artistic success that exists within the Cirque, and allows readers to debate how the organization might continue to walk the tightrope between these two imperatives.

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