Creativity and enterprise in unusual places
André Spicer, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (UK)
Daniel Hjorth, Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
Christian De Cock, University of Wales/ Swansea (UK)
Deborah Jones, Victoria Management School, University of Victoria/Wellington (New Zealand)
Call for papers
Creativity and enterprise are increasingly acknowledged as absolutely central aspects of dynamic organizations and societies. Politicians claim that growing creative enterprise will make their economies more competitive; business people champion creative enterprise as a panacea for corporate success; cultural practitioners claim creative enterprise will help build more interesting and vibrant societies; and social commentators claim that creative enterprise will allow people to emancipate themselves. With such promising claims, it is not surprising that researchers in organization studies are turning to the study of creativity and enterprise. Indeed there now exist burgeoning literatures on creativity in organizations, the creative industries, entrepreneurship in the public sector, entrepreneurs in university-business collaborations, and institutional entrepreneurship. This research has certainly expanded our understandings of how new ways of organizing are generated and brought into being. However, these studies have typically looked for enterprise in all the usual places. The result is that we already know much about successful entrepreneurs, creative industries, high-tech hubs and creative cities. Yet, this has silenced, or made us deaf, to stories of creativity and entrepreneurship occurring in unusual or less expected places. In particular, we know little about the power dynamics associated with creativity and enterprise. We have become trapped in a relatively narrow set of theoretical approaches and narrowing empirical scope, and we often discount all the inventive acts that occur in places such as street corners, war torn territories, government bureaucracies, refugee camps, medieval monasteries, blogs and the imaginary worlds found in literature and, indeed, practiced in such ‘unusual places’ as those ‘spaces for play’ created in everyday life. We forget the fantastic and absurd nature of many entrepreneurial schemes and creative dreams. We do not even consider how the claims associated with enterprise and creativity are actually reflected in organizational realities. In this EGOS stream we aim to push the study of creativity and enterprise further by exploring these issues. We therefore invite papers which might consider some of the following themes:
Governing creativity and enterprise
Governments sell their economies as creativity hothouses. Cities try to foster creative industries. Corporations induce their employees to be more entrepreneurial. Children are even encouraged (e.g. through entrepreneurship-in-school initiatives) to become mini-entrepreneurs. Should such a rapid spread of the ethic of enterprise and creativity be a cause for celebrations? Should we be wary of the generalization of discourses of entrepreneurship and creativity? In order to answer these questions, we encourage papers that examine the spread of discourses of enterprise and creativity in a multitude of settings. We also seek papers that consider creativity and enterprise as mechanisms of social control, as instruments for new governmentalities (governmental rationalities).
Re-conceptualizing enterprise and creativity
Creativity and enterprise are the subject of largely separate bodies of theory. In order to develop a more adequate conceptualization of creative enterprise, it is necessary to bring these two bodies of theory into contact with one another. This might involve abandoning the tamed and governable vision of the entrepreneur that permeates so much of the literature on the topic. It would require us to understand entrepreneurship as the combination of passion and action, as the power to be affected by the world and to affect the world. Similarly, it would drive a fundamental rethinking of how we conceptualize creativity. This may mean recognizing that creativity is not simply a mental act of creating radically new ideas. Rather it is an activity, a performative expression which seeks to break through a chaos of clichés, common perceptions and ready-made representations. We thus encourage papers that explore the concepts of creativity, enterprise and the juncture between the two.
Enterprise in the creative economy
The creative economy is said to be a space that thrives with various forms of enterprise. Despite a lot of exhilarated talk about the entrepreneurial potential of the creative economy, there is very little sustained critical engagement and empirical evidence on the topic. We would therefore like to ask some of the following questions: Is the creative economy as entrepreneurial as pundits claim? What do people actually do when they create new things in the cultural economy? What form does entrepreneurship actually take on in this cultural economy? How do these creative entrepreneurs produce the experiences which this new creative economy thrives off? What do the new relationships to consumer, or prosumers (producer-consumers) look like? What is there that is so "cultural" about some entrepreneurial endeavors?
Unusual forms of creativity and enterprise
Typically the search for creativity and enterprise leads researchers into extensively studied sites such as hi-tech start ups or successful companies in the creative industries. But, creativity often occurs in unusual/unexpected places including prisons, schools, ships, and in the criminal underworld. Entrepreneurs may also be ‘strange’ characters such as refugees, pirates, characters in literature, revolutionaries, and graffiti artists. In order to explore these issues we encourage papers which seek out creativity and entrepreneurship in unusual or unexpected places. This will probably take the form of contemporary or historical case studies of unusual forms of creativity or unlikely entrepreneurs and inquiries into heterotopias (radically other places) and their heterologies (stories of the other).
Creative fantasies and entrepreneurial absurdities
Enterprising often involves the creation of absurd plans that never come into being. Indeed the whole history of enterprise is made up of fantasies that never make it off the drawing board: hair-brained schemes which fail abysmally, puzzling inventions that never work, and deceitful scams put together by ‘shysters’ and ‘con-artists’. Conversely, these ‘absurd’ but often very detailed proposals and utopias can function as an effective critique of contemporary society (a recent example would be Peter Sloterdijk’s meticulous plan for a ‘pneumatic parliament’ which can be dropped from a military cargo plane to speedily democratize ‘rogue’ states). We invite papers which revive some of these creative fantasies and entrepreneurial absurdities through careful case studies and possible relations to and inspirations from literature. We also encourage papers which consider the role of absurdity and fantasy in the creative and entrepreneurial process.
The realities of creativity and enterprise
Although the rhetoric of creativity and enterprise is unremittingly upbeat, the underlying realities often provide a markedly different picture. The fact is that most work in the creative industries is poorly paid, offers bad working conditions, and is profoundly repetitive and boring. Although the ‘flexibility’ of networked and project-based creative work is often heralded as prototypical of the ‘boundaryless career’, the reliance on personal networks can foster and extend patterns of social exclusion. Similarly, the realities of entrepreneurship often include stress, depression, debt and failure. In order to reveal some of the realities of creativity and entrepreneurship we encourage papers that ask whether the hype around creativity and enterprise matches the reality on the ground.
About the convenors
André Spicer is a Lecturer in Organization Studies at the Warwick Business School, University of Warwick. He holds a Doctorate from the University of Melbourne, Australia. He has published widely in journals such as Organization Studies, Organization, Human Relations, and the Journal of Management Studies. He is currently working two monographs entitled ‘Unmasking the Entrepreneur’ (with Campbell Jones) and ‘Contesting the Corporation’ (with Peter Fleming).
Daniel Hjorth is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, at the Copenhagen Business School and Acting Professor at Växjö University. He holds a doctorate from Lund University. He has edited a range of journal special issues and collected edition on entrepreneurship and innovation. He has also published in a range of journals including Journal of Management Inquiry, Human Relations, and Organization, and Entrepreneurship and Regional Development.
Christian De Cock is Professor of Organization Studies at Swansea University where he also acts as director of the MBA programme. He received his MSc. and PhD. Degrees from the Manchester Business School. Christian has a long-standing interest in the role of the arts, literature and philosophy in management theory and management development. Over the past decade Christian has taught at various universities in several countries, including Sweden, Spain, Singapore, France, and Australia.
Deborah Jones is a Senior Lecturer in Management, Victoria Management School, University of Victoria Wellington, New Zealand. She has degrees in English as well as a PhD in Managment Studies. Her current research focus is the creative industries, especially the film industry. Current projects include critiques of ‘creative industries’ and ‘creativity in management’ discourse, and she is initiating a longitudinal study of ‘new creative’ workers in the New Zealand film industry. She has also published research on the film industry and nationalism, and on director Peter Jackson. Other publications cover feminist theory; gender, ethnicity and ‘diversity’ at work; ageing at work; organisational communication, and discourse analytic methodologies. She is active in organising Critical Management Studies in Aotearoa New Zealand through colloquia, confernces and confernce streams.