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The collective creativity of academics and practitioners in innovation projects

Torild Alise W. Oddane (Trondheim Business School, Trondheim, Norway)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 5 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the adequacy of the common individual creativity vs organizatonal innovation dichotomy in a complex real-life context.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on a retrospective case study of a R&D project in a large industrial company.

Findings

The paper shows that understanding the relationship between creativity and innovation as a matter of individual creativity followed by subsequent collective innovation, fails to account for the inherent collective, and improvisational nature of innovation projects. To deal with this weakness, the paper proposes a reconceptualization of the relationship in terms of a capacity/activity distinction which views creativity as an individual and collective integral part of the complex innovation activity.

Research limitations/implications

This paper does not discuss challenges regarding collaboration between people representing a variety of expertise, interests, and organizational belongings.

Practical implications

The paper points out that continuous collective creativity is more important than initial individual creativity in complex real-life projects. The paper provides specific examples of work forms and approaches encouraging the collective creativity of researchers and practitioners in an innovation project. The work forms and approaches show how people continually deal with complexity, uncertainty and “the unexpected.” As such, the paper may be valuable to managers of complex real life-projects involving people with a great variety of expertise.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to a reconceptualization of the relationship between creativity and innovation which forms a contrast to the most common ways to distinquish between the phenomena. The capacity/activity distinction reflects the common assumption of a close relationship between creativity and innovation, but does not restrict creativity to the individual level or initial stage of innovation projects only. As such, the reconceptualization of the relationship between creativity and innovation can form the basis for practice-based theories in project management.

Keywords

Citation

Oddane, T.A.W. (2015), "The collective creativity of academics and practitioners in innovation projects", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 33-57. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-10-2013-0060

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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