Chris Bilton's Book, Management and Creativity: An Analysis

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In Chris Bilton’s book, Management and Creativity: From Creative Industries to Creative Management, the author argues that simply allowing employees total freedom will not result in increased creativity and innovation. In fact, he claims that, “Contrary to the myth of the self-motivated, creative worker and the ideology of neo-liberal management, managerial intervention can play a significant part in the creative process.” (Bilton, 2007, p. 86). Bilton researches into how the relationship between creativity and management sets out to challenge some of the norms in management theory and practice, along with creative industries policies. His research on the relationship between management and creativity aims to challenge the stereotypical separation of ‘creatives’ and ‘suits’. He examines the way creative people think of themselves as geniuses and like to feel they are different from ordinary folk.

To analyze such an argument, creativity needs to be defined, which is difficult. Bilton discusses how, “One of the difficulties with defining creativity is its mystical, quasi-spiritual quality.” (2007, p. xiv). Because of this mystical quality, creativity could be claimed by everybody. Creativity is a paradox—being everywhere and nowhere—that is accessible to all, and marketed as a rare commodity. It is a complex and demanding process that entails much more, “…than simply coming up with bright ideas, being inspired, or indulging in moments of spontaneous invention.” (2007, p. xiv). Creativity requires crossing boundaries between different ways of thinking, both rationally and irrationally. Definitions of creativity are comprised of various components such as the ideas of duality and paradox, the combination of different ideas into new and unexpected patterns, combinations of innovation and value, of different thinking styles, rationality and irrationality. Essentially, creativity depends on the assembling of these components into unexpected combinations. Depending on the context, the definition of creativity will vary.

Interestingly, Bilton opens his introduction to the book by quoting John Tusa in On Creativity: Interviews Exploring the Process (2003): "'Creative', 'creation' and 'creativity' are some of the most overused and ultimately debased words in the language. Stripped of any special significance by a generation of bureaucrats, civil servants, managers and politicians, lazily used as political margarine to spread approvingly and inclusively over any activity with a non-material element to it, the word 'creative' has become almost unusable." (2007, p. xiii). So, not only is creativity difficult to define, but it seems the word in itself lacks value.

Based on Western philosophical tradition, creativity has two themes, individualism and innovation, which are discussed throughout Bilton's book. However, the themes show a disparity between creative thinking and creative people from the contexts and systems, which give their innovations and individual talents meaning and value. To simplify this definition, creativity is thinking up new things, while innovation is doing new things. In today’s business world, many companies are faced with rapidly changing environments, which is why innovation, resulting from creative thinking, is imperative for survival and growth. From a psychological perspective, creativity contains two separate components. The first being that creativity requires novelty or innovation, making or thinking something new, or a new combination of existing elements. Novelty, on the other hand, is always relative. Margaret Boden categorizes innovation into two levels, ‘P-creativity,’ where the idea is new to the individual, and ‘H-creativity,’ where the idea is new to the world. Secondly, the idea must be useful or valuable. This psychological definition of creativity argues that creative ideas must demonstrate “fitness for purpose.” (2007, p. 3). It is difficult to distinguish between having an idea,...
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