The Influences on Creativity in Research and Innovation
Edited by Sven Hemlin and Carl Martin Allwood
Chapter 2: Accord or discord? Tensions and creativity in research
Magnus Gulbrandsen In this chapter the central argument is that research units that produce creative outputs can be characterized by a certain degree of tension. Organizational tensions may in some cases, if they are ‘balanced’ and ‘maintained’, contribute to increased creativity. The goal and ideology of much modern management and policy is, however, rather to remove frictions like tensions and ambiguities than to support or balance them, or to introduce pressures that are not conducive to creativity after all. Tensions that can contribute to creativity may stem from the central role of originality in research work, from the fact that originality is not the only criterion of quality, and from processes of personal and organizational learning, change and maintenance of motivation. A good working climate appears to be a central element in tolerating and benefiting from tensions. INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW Something close to a paradox emerges in the literature on creative knowledge environments, as well as in the interviews that form the empirical basis of this chapter. Some authors and informants emphasize that creativity in research is the result of what can be termed a process of discord: a process characterized by tensions, ambiguities, conflicts and resistances. One of my informants, an institute researcher working with vaccines, argued that creativity is often the result of ‘depression’, a personal struggle related to the work itself but also to the scientist’s relationship with research managers, colleagues and other actors. Kuhn made a somewhat similar point in an essay on creativity, stating, ‘the...
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