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Creativity in/of Organizations for Managing Things to Come: Lessons to Be Learnt from Philosophy

Abstract

Organizational creativity is essential in the face of an unknown future. In this chapter, we inspect pertinent philosophical insights into the problems and paradoxes of creation and creativity. To this end, we take care not to strain the concept of paradox, which is somewhat devalued through inflation, and to replace it, in many cases, with the concepts of complementarity, recursiveness and supplementarity. Although we refer mostly to continental philosophy, we use, rather than philosophical approaches, a selection criterion that includes problems such as the necessity of imagination of the future and, therefore, of creativity as a way to cope with its uncertainty and unknowledgeability; the tension between freedom and constraint; Plato’s search paradox; Jon Elster’s states that are not (directly) intendable; and, not least, the problem of the emergence of organizational creativity as a capacity of corporate actors. We start, however, by considering the role of escalating contingency and the opposition of creation and destruction in (hyper-)modernity and the implied ambivalence of creativity, which is recognized but mostly neglected within creativity research.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    ‘[A] man cannot search … for what he does not know, because he does not know what to look for.’ (Plato, Meno, 80e, Grube’s translation).

  2. 2.

    For more details and a somewhat different definition, see Sainsbury (1993).

  3. 3.

    This is why an article about strategic management—about preparing for an unknown future—was called ‘Stumbling Giants’ (Ortmann and Salzman 2002). The authors wanted to say: even strategic management, also in big corporations, cannot but stolpern in ihr Glück.

  4. 4.

    For more on the use of jazz as a metaphor within organization studies, se e for example Weick (1998) and Hatch (1999).

  5. 5.

    For more on corporate personhood in the United States, see Nace (2003).

  6. 6.

    See Sawyer (2003) for a general discussion of diachronical emergence and creativity.

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Acknowledgements

An earlier version was presented at WK ORG 2015 at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

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Ortmann, G., Sydow, J. (2018). Creativity in/of Organizations for Managing Things to Come: Lessons to Be Learnt from Philosophy. In: Krämer, H., Wenzel, M. (eds) How Organizations Manage the Future. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74506-0_4

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