Circus the Circus

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  • Topic: Circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Juggling
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  • Published : November 25, 2012
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Blue Ocean Strategy Institute BOS007

The Evolution of the Circus Industry (A)

xOverall winner of the 2009 European Case Clearing House Awards xWinnerofa2006EuropeanCaseClearingHouseAwardinthecategory “Strategy and General Management”

06/2009-4999

This case was prepared by Matt Williamson, INSEAD MBA 2000, under the supervision of Professors W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne and Ben M. Bensaou, all at INSEAD. It is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation.

Copyright © 2002, INSEAD-EAC, Fontainebleau, France.

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This document is authorized for use only by Janis Rozenbergs at Vidzeme University until August 2013. Copying or

Blue Ocean Strategy Institute

“If you ask a kid to draw a circus, they draw a tent.” Pam Miller, Big Apple Circus, New York. Indeed, the circus tent is a unique and evocative icon that has featured prominently in circuses for centuries. Relying heavily on a flamboyant entry into town, the big top was their primary tool to attract audiences to the spectacle taking place inside. Nevertheless, while the symbolism of the tent is important in the contemporary interpretation of circus, most early shows, particularly the European precursors of what would be recognized today as circus, took place in theatres and dedicated buildings.

The Origins of the Circus

The circus was created in 1768 by Philip Astley, an Englishman who set up a ring format for equestrian events, still in use today. Classical circus is considered to...
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