Critical Realism and Creativity

Journal of Critical Realism 8 (3):294-315 (2009)
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Humanist thought has long considered the nature of creativity in workers but the dominant framework for conceptualising creativity, rooted in psychological theory, has provided inadvertent limits on who might be considered creative at work. This is because creativity is commonly defined through the recognition of produced and valued novelty. This definition obscures all that is unrecognised, unrealised, unexercised, and currently in potential from being considered as creativity. Given that creativity can sometimes exist in potential, and that some workers have their creativity actively prevented from being recognised, researching and understanding the unrecognised creative person can be seen as an important goal for humanist scholars. The goal of this paper then is to unpick the contradiction between unrecognised creativity and dominant definitions of creativity in order to enable a deeper understanding of creativity at work. The paper proceeds with an immanent critique of the dominant framework and its definition of creativity, before proposing a critical realist inspired ontology of creativity, including an augmented definition of creativity. The consequences of this research for understanding creativity in organisations are briefly reflected upon.



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