Creativity & Innovation

Creativity & Innovation as a CAS

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C/I as a CAS

The processes of creativity and innovation have been prtrayed in the literature in various ways with multiple conceptualizations. For example, some view creativity as a process relating to the “generation of new and valued ideas” (West, 2002, p. 357). Creativity can be defined as the “generation of original and useful ideas” (Rosing, Frese, & Bausch, 2011, p. 956). This places creativity as being an individual or team level construct.

Innovation has also been presented as being its own process and is best associated with bringing a creative product to its final product/service, to market. Innovation has been defined as “The intentional introduction and application within a role, group or organization of ideas, products or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption, designed to significantly benefit role performance, the group, the organization or the wider society” (West & Farr, 1989, p. 16). This places innovation as being a collective construct that takes place at the team and organizational levels of analysis.

The literature has also presented both creativity and innovation together as a single process. Some have associated these two processes with idea generation (creativity) and idea implementation (innovation; Rosing et al., 2011; West, 2002). Combining these two constructs into one process makes for a more seamless transition from the development phases to the implementation phases of a product or service. Combining these two process is necessary because there are many overlapping stages in these transitions that need to be accounted for. The interplay between the creative and innovative processes are critical for each to support the other, thses interaction would not be accounted for in viewing each process independently. Thses interactions between the two processes also introduce additional levels of complexity to the overall process.

A description of the overall process, where creativity and innovation are viewed as being two parts of the same process, is provided in the following:

Creativity and innovation at work are the process, outcomes, and products of attempts to develop and introduces new and improved ways of doing things. The creativity stage of this process refers to idea generation, and innovation refers to the subsequent stage of implementing ideas toward better procedures, practices, or products. Creativity and innovation can occur at the level of the individual, work team, organization, or at more than one of these levels combined but will invariably result in identifiable benefits at one or more of these levels of analysis.” (Anderson et al., 2014, p. 1298)

Other researchers have combined the processes into a composite construct. For example, de Jong and den Hartog (2010) identified the deficiencies in measuring creativity and innovation while representing one level of analysis. They identified the innovative processes as being composed of four dimensions: exploration, generation, championing and implementation of ideas. These dimensions cover both the creative and innovative processes as well as accounting for the interplay/interactions that take place between the two.

In our own research (Turner & Baker, 2020), we view the processes of creativity and innovation as one cohesive process. We view the creative and innovative processes (we call them C/I processes) as being a complex adaptive system (CAS). From our research we stated the following:

“The current study takes the position that both creativity and innovation make-up one comprehensive process (Amabile, 1997; Amabile & Pratt, 2016) as opposed to viewing creativity as its own separate process (Botticchio & Vialle, 2009; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Ford, 1996) and innovation as a separate process (West, 2002; West & Farr, 1989). The processes of creativity and innovation are viewed as being a complex adaptive system (CAS), placing the processes as being dynamic, multilevel, and multidimensional (Amabile & Pratt, 2016; Staw, 1990)”

In the following posts, I will try to summarize research findings in the areas of creativity and innovation with an emphasis on C/I processes in the workplace that includes multilevels of analysis (individual, team, multiteam systems, organization).


Amabile, T. M. (1997). Motivating creativity in organizations: On doing what you love and loving what you do. California Management Review, 40, 39-58.

Amabile, T. M., & Pratt, M. G. (2016). The dynamic componential model of creativity and innovation in organizations: Making progress, making meaning. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36, 157-183. doi:10.1016/j.riob.2016.10.001

Anderson, N., Potocnki, K., & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovatin and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, prospective commentary, and guiding framework. Journal of Management, 40(5), 1297-1333. doi:10.1177/0149206314527128

Botticchio, M., & Vialle, W. J. (2009). Creativity and flow theory: Reflections on the talent development of women. In J. Shi (Ed.), International conference on the cultivation and education of creativity and innovation (pp. 97-107). Xi’an, China: Institute of Psychology of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: The psychology of discovery and invention. New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

de Jong, J., & den Hartog, D. (2010). Measuring innovative work behaviour. Creativity and Innovation Management, 19(1), 23-36. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8691.2010.00547.x

Ford, C. M. (1996). A theory of individual creative action in multiple social domains. Academy of Management Review, 21, 1112-1142. doi:10.5465/AMR.1996.0704071865

Staw, B. M. (1990). An evolutionary approach to creativity and innovation. In M. A. West & J. L. Farr (Eds.), Innovation and creativity at work: Psychological and organizational strategies (pp. 287-308). Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Turner, J. R., & Baker, R. (2020). Just doing the do: A case study testing creativity and innovative processes as complex adaptive systems. New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development, 32(2), 40-61. doi:10.1002/nha3.20283

Rosing, K., Frese, M., & Bausch, A. (2011). Explaining the heterogeneity of the leadership-innovation relationship: Ambidextrous leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(5), 956-974. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.07.014

West, M. A., (2002). Sparkling founains or stagnant ponds: An integrative model of creativity and innovation implementation in work groups. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 51(3), 355-424. doi:10.1111/1464-0597.00951

West, M. A., & Farr, J. L. (1989). Innovation at work; Psychological perspectives. Social Behavior: An International Journal of Applied Psychology, 4(1), 15-30.

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