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Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Abraham Ninan
Chapter 17: Managing Creativity in the Knowledge Economy
Mark Banks Introduction In the knowledge economy creativity is widely promoted as a key resource for securing competitive advantage, yet precisely how firms define and manage this elusive attribute continues to attract diverse opinions (Amabile 1996; Davis and Scase 2000; Florida 2002). This chapter first accounts for the emergence of creativity as a desirable corporate asset before examining varied workplace definitions of creativity and strategies for creative management. Since it is often argued that, in the ‘new’ economy, ‘knowledge is in the networks’ (Cooke 2002, p. 2), priority is given to the social and interactive – rather than the individualistic – nature of the creative process. It is argued that the popular idealization of the individual creative, as the impulsive harbinger of new ideas, is, for the most part, a partial and reductive one. This is because it disclaims the organizational and institutional forms of interaction that are necessary for the effective mobilization of creativity (Amabile 1996), as well as ignoring the ways in which creativity is contested, disciplined and, indeed, often negated, in the contemporary firm (Nixon 2003; Prichard 2002). In drawing upon empirical research undertaken with managers working in ‘new media’ SMEs from the north-west of England (Banks et al. 2002), the chapter contends that creativity is a contested social process – and in doing so emphasizes both the local and specific character of creativity discourses and the centrality of power relations in defining and managing creativity. Creativity, production and consumption Arguably, the creative impulse has been stimulated by the mooted...
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