Complexity and collaboration in creative group work

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles

Abstract

In concert with the emergence of cross-disciplinary collaborative working practices, the demands of creativity and innovation in working life have increased. The problems of the 21st Century are inherently complex and require the creative contributions of multiple stakeholders to solve them. Furthermore, working life settings are often ad hoc and diverse in their nature, making collaboration challenging in terms of creative synergy. However, creativity has been predominantly studied from the individual perspective, meaning the research tradition is out of step with changes in working practices as it does not provide guidance for complex creative and interactional processes. Therefore, new approaches that account for the complexity of human interaction and collaboration need to be developed to better understand what creativity is and how it can emerge from synergy between people who are very different from each other. This is the focus of the dissertation.

This dissertation argues that creative collaboration can be approached through the lens of the theories about complex systems. These theories conceptualize creative collaboration as an interactive and emergent phenomenon, in which creativity emerges continuously and unpredictably from the interactions of the actors and elements of the system. This argument is investigated in this study by developing a research framework based on the theories of complex systems and examining creative collaboration through empirical case studies that were conducted in the context of innovation camps. The proposed research framework emphasises three important points of attention when studying creative collaboration: temporal patterns, social mechanisms, and meanings and communication.

The findings of the explorative research suggest several interesting research avenues. Firstly, the creative process seems to follow unanticipated temporal orders, including points of sudden discontinuities. This suggests that a creative process requires patience for an efficient working mode to emerge. Secondly, the mechanism of emergence describes how a system of contributors includes both individual and collective level knowledge, skills and memory. This suggests that the emergence of shared practices in a group setting requires a certain level of autonomy and self-direction. Thirdly, human creativity is a process of symbolic exchange and meaning-making. The acknowledgement of the constructive communicative nature of the creative process helps individuals involved in a creative collaborative process understand how different interpretative frames can contribute to a creative process, which stands in contrast to the information transmission-based understanding of communication and knowledge building.

This dissertation incorporates two conceptual and three empirical articles that are further developed in the concluding article.
Original languageEnglish
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-951-51-1087-9
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-1088-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 518 Media and communications

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