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Organizing Uncertainty as an Asset in Creative Collaboration: A Comparison of the Music and Pharmaceutical Industries

Organizing Creativity in the Innovation Journey

ISBN: 978-1-83982-875-1, eISBN: 978-1-83982-874-4

Publication date: 17 September 2021


This study explores the yet understudied productive aspects of uncertainty in the organization of creative collaboration and scrutinizes the practices that allow participants to fruitfully use it as a resource for the creation of novelty. In contrast to former conceptualizations of uncertainty as a quantity to be reduced through organizing, we apply a qualitative heuristic where uncertainty may shift different dimensions regarding participation (who?), procedure (how?) and content (what?). Based on eight creativity biographies in two creative fields, music production and pharmaceutical development, encompassing 36 semi-structured qualitative interviews, we identify embracing, ignoring, and fixing uncertainty as three distinct, yet interrelated practices to engage with uncertainty and thereby enable the emergence of valuable novelty in interaction. We further discover that the participants shift these practices between the different dimensions of uncertainty during the process of creative collaboration. Moreover, we argue that these shifts are necessary to maintain creativity in collaborative processes. Thereupon, we contribute insights to the so far enigmatic notion of organizing for collaborative creativity.




We would like to thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for funding this research (IB 95/12-1; JA 2037/3-1) and in particular the members of the DFG-research unit Organized Creativity (FOR: 2161) for years of collaborative work and inspiration. Additionally, warm thanks are due to Silviya Svejenova as well as the involved reviewers for providing constructive criticism and helpful feedback.


Ibert, O., Jackson, G., Theel, T. and Vogelgsang, L. (2021), "Organizing Uncertainty as an Asset in Creative Collaboration: A Comparison of the Music and Pharmaceutical Industries", Schuessler, E., Cohendet, P. and Svejenova, S. (Ed.) Organizing Creativity in the Innovation Journey (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 75), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-136.



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