Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Creativity and Innovation in Saudi Arabia: An Overview

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Creativity and Innovation in Saudi Arabia: An Overview

Article excerpt


Research on innovation began to grow in the early 1960s and continued to advance since then. In those early years, the focus was on conceptualization and theory building. Studies in those years were more of a descriptive nature, analyzing the association between various contextual factors and characteristics of organization. Later, in the 80s and 90s, the research was initiated to broaden the theory of innovation and thus offered prescriptions towards designing innovative firms. Studies, which emerged during the 80s and 90s, broadened the theory of innovation and offered prescriptions towards designing innovative organizations (Abujarad & Yusof 2010). Thus, the field of 'Innovation' has been given an obvious importance. Paul Torrance [in Robinson & Stern (1998, p. 5)] highlighted the importance of creativity and innovation to survival:

Creativity and innovation are adaptive forces which have perhaps been given too little attention in connection in connection with problems of survival and survival training. Successful survivors describe many creative and imaginative behaviors which not only solved immediate problems for them but apparently gave them renewed energy for continued adaptation.

As the global forces become increasingly inevitable, many business experts are predicting that workforce creativity and innovation will be the most important factors in establishing and maintaining a competitive advantage. 'The social and technological changes that organizations face require creative decisions. Managers of the future need to develop special competencies to deal with the turbulence of change, and one of these important competencies is the ability to promote creativity in organizations' (Nelson & Quick 2006). Therefore, creativity and innovation has not become merely a buzzword in organizations but also an integral part of every employee's job description (Matthewman et al. 2009).

Similarly, in describing the importance of creativity, Powell (2008) noted that the creative industries around the world were growing faster than other economic sectors. The creative industries refer to a range of economic activities which are concerned with the generation or exploitation of knowledge and information. They may variously also be referred as the creative economy (Howkins 2001). Next section presents some definitions of creativity and innovation.


The term of 'Creativity' and innovation are often used interchangeably in research studies, and the distinction between two concepts may be more one of emphasis than substance (Matthewman et al. 2009). Sadi and Al-Dubaisi (2007) note that the creativity has been discussed, analyzed and debated widely by researchers. Although it is not hard to recognize creative ideas or creative individuals, defining creativity can be a bit more challenging. Though defining creativity can be challenging but it needs restructuring of existing ideas, knowledge, technology and systems into new models (Corso & Gluth 2007).

There is no one definition, but many different theories of the nature of creativity. In reality we have to take a pragmatic approach and recognize that most definitions include some mention of newness and also appropriateness, both of which need to work together if ideas are to progress (Charlton 2002). Most of the researchers in the field of creativity and innovation indicated to the newness, novelty and originality when they define creativity. For instance, Amabile (1997, p. 39) explained the broader definition of creativity as:

Creativity is simply the production of novel, appropriate ideas in any realm of human activity, from science, to the arts, to education, to business, to everyday life. The Idea must be novel - different from what has been done before - but they can't be simply bizarre; they must be appropriate to the problem or opportunity presented.

Similarly, Franken (2007) described as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. …

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