Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Using Narratives in Creativity Research: Handling the Subjective Nature of Creative Process

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Using Narratives in Creativity Research: Handling the Subjective Nature of Creative Process

Article excerpt

The topic of creativity has always been the subject matter of interest for organizational scholars. Today creativity at work has emerged as an organizational competency required by firms to seamlessly operate across multiple products and service domains with operational ingenuity (Tuori & Vilen, 2011; Zhou & Shalley, 2003). Creative industry, in particular, has attracted a lot of research interest in the past few decades as the strategic importance of this sector has increased in idea based economies where knowledge-based industries have immensely propelled (Matheson, 2006). The creative industry, often characterized by firms involved in advertising, architecture, art and crafts market, industrial design, fashion design, media services, software, the performing arts, publishing, film, music, and television, is seen not only as a driver of economic growth but also as encompassing social and cultural development (Parkman, Holloway, & Sebastiao, 2012). A creative workplace is one that supports people working on their creative endeavors (Martens, 2011). Employees in the creative industry identify themselves as "creative" without feeling the need to be defined in a disciplinary or more professional term (Matheson, 2006).

There are numerous conceptions of creativity at work with most of them calling it the "process, outcomes, and products of attempts to develop and introduce new and improved ways of doing things" (Anderson, Potocnik, & Zhou, 2014). However, irrespective of the definition we choose, it is critically important to note that creativity is not limited to the so-called creative workplaces only, rather it is an all-pervasive phenomenon. Although contested whether creativity is a personal or social phenomenon, both the views acknowledge that "creative capacity is an essential property of normative human cognition" (Mayer, 1999, p. 450). In other words, "creativity is part of what makes us human" (Sawyer, 2012, p. 3). But it is a sad fact that having a "space" that can empower one's creativity is often seen as a privilege in most of the workplaces. Organizations have to realize that providing autonomy to employees for fostering their creativity is not only for improving employee performance as it is often contrasted with imperatives to intensify work (Boxall & Macky, 2014; Gallie, 2007, p. 212) but allowing an individual to realize his/her creative potential is gesturing to recognize his/her dignity at work (Hodson, 2001). It is quite pertinent that individual initiatives and organizational reinforcements needed to develop creative potential are by far missing in many organizations (Phelan, 2001) mainly due to our impoverished understanding of creativity at work. Firstly, it is the lack of consensus in understanding creativity theoretically. Secondly, it is about dealing with the problem empirically that reigns despite a growing body of research in this area (see review by Piorkowska, 2016). Empirical challenges in studying the creative process have led to a stage where researchers find little that has practical significance (Dubina, 2005; Anderson et al., 2014). The dominant use of psychometrics in assessing individual and group creativity has inadvertently rendered creativity as an "object" held by those judged as creative. We often tend to overlook the fact that creativity is both about the process as well as the outcome, and without truly embracing the process-perspective of understanding creativity, we cannot envision creativity as essential to human existence. Apparently, a deeper understanding of creativity needs to thrive in the modern business arena and researchers should contribute to both, the theory and the practice of understanding the creative process.

Foundations of Creativity Research

Suitability of the methodological framework, guided by its ontological and epistemological roots, is crucial for any social inquiry (Crotty, 1998). Westmarland (2001) argued that knowledge has been traditionally measured by how objective it is deemed to be, and in the belief that if the reliability, objectivity, and validity "rules" are followed, "the truth" will be discovered; "rules" portray the overly specific methodologies and the rigid assumptions. …

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