April 10, 2017


We have summarised a number of relevant insights from the organisational (collective) creativity literature for your perusal below. One objective of NetCreate is to adapt and extend this knowledge – generated mainly through research on commercial firms with fixed boundaries – so that it captures how collective creativity unfolds in the more fluid context of hubs.


“Creativity” in organisation studies is about… the generation of ideas that are novel and useful. But: the boundaries between “creativity” and “innovation” are fuzzy (ideation vs. implementation, or a cyclical process?). Creativity is fundamentally about the recombination of extant ideas into meaningful new forms. Amabile, Teresa M. (1996) Creativity in Context. Boulder, CO: Westview.


Stark, David (2009) The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

“Collective creativity” can be viewed as… the mindful engagement of individuals in creative interactions. It has occurred when interactions have triggered new interpretations and new discoveries of distant analogies that the individuals involved, thinking alone, could not have generated. Cultures of help-seeking, help-giving and reflective reframing can catalyse moments of c. creativity. Hargadon, Andrew, & Beth A. Bechky. ‘When Collections of Creatives Become Creative Collectives: A Field Study of Problem Solving at Work’. Organization Science 17, no. 4 (2006): 484–500.

Networks and creativity are related… so that individuals & firms with that occupy “structural holes” (spaces in between networks) may have marked advantages, along with those possessing more “weak ties”. Note that this assumes knowledge is a thing that can be transmitted. Burt, Ronald S. ‘Structural Holes and Good Ideas’. American Journal of Sociology 110, no. 2 (2004): 349–99.

Overlaps of diverse networks, occupations and bodies of knowledge… may matter just as much, if not more, as weak ties and structural holes, if we assume that knowledge is a thing that must be fused through (in-depth) creative interactions. Vaan, Mathijs de, Balazs Vedres, and David Stark. ‘Game Changer: The Topology of Creativity’. American Journal of Sociology 120, no. 4 (January 2015): 1144–94.
Diversity may or may not catalyse collective creativity… Indeed, it is hard to reach clarity on this question without specifying what “diversity” means in each case and without substantial further research. Harvey, Sarah. ‘The Multiple Effects of Deep Level Diversity on Group Creativity’. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49, no. 5 (September 2013): 822–32.
Boundary objects… can facilitate creativity and collaboration across people from different (knowledge or occupational) backgrounds. Such objects can be “worked on” without full agreement on key concepts or assumptions etc. Nicolini, Davide, Jeanne Mengis, and Jacky Swan. ‘Understanding the Role of Objects in Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration’. Organization Science 23, no. 3 (June 2012): 612–29.