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Creativity discourses as a normative device in corporate offshoring

Andi Burris (Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, London, UK)

Critical Perspectives on International Business

ISSN: 1742-2043

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to apply a postcolonial perspective on the findings from ethnographic research in a multi-national corporation in Shanghai and shed light on the ways that western creativity narratives are deployed as a means to mobilise and transform workers into self-governing, obedient corporate subjects.


The research applied ethnographic approaches to understand how creativity narratives are enacted in cross-cultural settings.


Creativity discourses in China often provoke anxieties around national capacity, economic growth and indigenous innovation. Locally trained knowledge workers in China are often assessed as less creative than their western counterparts and the reason attributed to cultural, pedagogical and political differences. However, these factors are not static in China’s fluid economic landscape and neither do Chinese workers uniformly accept that they are less creative.


This paper sheds light on a previously unexamined aspect of dominant western creativity discourses, which may be useful in future work amongst practitioners in international business settings.



Burris, A. (2017), "Creativity discourses as a normative device in corporate offshoring", Critical Perspectives on International Business, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 263-276.



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