Looking for an overview of social science research on conditions that enhance or constrain creativity in organizations? See my just published Sociology Compass article “Organizing Creativity: Enabling Creative Output, Process, and Organizing Practices.” This article pulls together findings from organizational sociology (including my own research on the organization behind Burning Man), cultural sociology, psychology, and organizational studies.
Here is the abstract:
How individuals can exercise creativity in collectivities is unclear. We thus need to more thoroughly investigate the ‘black box’ of organizational creativity. Future research should consider creativity in a variety of organizations, rather than just those that are known for creative outputs or practices. In addition, we need to examine what I call everyday, relational, and proto-institutional forms of organizational creativity. Intra- and inter-organizational aspects can enhance or depress such organizational creativity: (1) within the organization’s boundary: internal interactions among organizational members and (2) outside the organization’s boundary: the surrounding organizational environment or field, which include competing or supporting organizations, other organizational actors, and the state. These two aspects pose dilemmas about how to organize that can constrain or enhance organizational creativity. In addressing these dilemmas, organizations must mediate between under- and over-organizing extremes. Organizations can enable creativity by incorporating changing interests and conditions. Organizations can eschew convention, increase rank-and-file involvement with corresponding authority, tolerate ambiguity and deviance, encourage improvisation, and support members’ diverse experiences and perspectives.”