Dangerous Liaisons: Bridging Micro and Macro Levels in Creativity Research

Part of the Creativity in the Twenty First Century book series (CTFC)


Research on creativity is generally at the level of the individual, but scholars are beginning to offer conceptual frameworks at higher analytical levels: careers, social network s and institutional field s. This work approaches creativity as emerging from biographical transposition and relational flows across social network s. Ambiguity and heterogeneity are the raw materials of creativity, unfolding through mechanisms of spillover , transposition and recombination . The chapter reviews work in the macro-level tradition and discusses the existing gap between micro and macro levels in creativity research. Bridging this gap involves a dual process: showing how structural processes create idea-conducive conditions and how personality and identity make it possible to harness the conditions. To that end, a cross-level method is proposed, encompassing identity , network s and the field . It is applied to two cases: Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Diaghilev’s Les Ballets Russes. If generally believed that creativity is facilitated by openness, it can also be helped by blockage, when blocked mobility inverses career paths and transposes ideas and practices across social domains. As shown, unexpected career shifts introduce contradictions, force improvisation and promote emotional ambivalence—factors associated with the capacity to forge new connections. People do not always make new combinations: these are sometimes made for them.


Early 20th Century Creative Process Visual Artist French Revolution Sociological Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Allan, D. (2012). Les Liaisons Dangereuses through the eyes of André Malraux. Journal of European Studies, 42(2), 123–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arthur, B. (2009). The nature of technology: What it is and how it evolves. New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the judgment of taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Burt, R. (2004). Structural holes and good ideas. American Journal of Sociology, 110(2), 349–399.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cattani, G., & Ferriani, S. (2008). A core/periphery perspective on individual creative performance: social networks and cinematic achievements in the hollywood film industry. Organization Science, 19(6), 824–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Collins, R. (1998). The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change. Harvard, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
  7. Coser, L. (1965). Men of ideas: A sociologist’s view. New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar
  8. Crépin, A. (2004). Choderlos de Laclos l’auteur des Liaisons dangereuses. Annales historiques de la Révolution française, 338, 157–158.Google Scholar
  9. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York NY: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  10. Emirbayer, M., & Goodwin, J. (1994). Network analysis, culture, and the problem of agency. American Journal of Sociology, 99(6), 1411–1454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Engel, M. (1967). Frank Lloyd Wright and Cubism: A study in ambiguity. American Quarterly, 19(1), 24–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eysenck, H. (1993). Creativity and personality: Suggestions for a theory. Psychological Inquiry, 4(3), 147–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. George, J., & Zhou, J. (2001). When openness to experience and conscientiousness are related to creative behavior: An interactional approach. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 513–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goldstone, J. (1993). Revolution and rebellion in the early modern world. Berkeley CA: UC Press.Google Scholar
  15. Grigoriev, S. (1953). The Diaghilev Ballet 1909–1929. London: Constable.Google Scholar
  16. Hargadon A, Sutton R (1997) Technology brokering and innovation in a product development firm. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 716–749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hodson, M. (1987). Nijinsky’s choreographic method: Visual sources from Roerich for “Le Sacre du printemps”. Dance Research Journal, 18(2), 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ibarra, H., Martin, K., & Wenpin, T. (2005). Zooming in and out: Connecting individuals and collectivities at the frontiers of organizational network research. Organization Science, 16(4), 359–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lachmann, R. (2000). Capitalists in spite of themselves. New York NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Lifar, S. (1969). The Russian ballet in Russia and in the West. Russian Review, 28(4), 396–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lingo, E., & O’Mahony, S. (2010). Nexus work: Brokerage on creative projects. Administrative Science Quarterly, 55(1), 47–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Malraux, A. (1970). Le Triangle noir Laclos Goya. Saint-Just. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  23. Macdonald, N. (1975). Diaghilev observed by critics in England and the United States, 1911–1929. New York, NY: Dance Horizons.Google Scholar
  24. Merton, R. (1972). Insiders and outsiders: A chapter in the sociology of knowledge. American Journal of Sociology, 78(1), 9–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Meyerson D, Scully M (1995) Tempered radicalism and the politics of ambivalence and change. Organization  Science, 6(5), 585–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Padgett, J., & Ansell, C. (1993). Robust action and the rise of the Medici, 1400–1434. American Journal of Sociology, 98(6), 1259–1319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Padgett, J., & McLean, P. (2006). Organizational invention and elite transformation: The birth of partnership systems in Renaissance Florence. American Journal of Sociology, 111(5), 1463–1568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Padgett, J., & Powell, W. (2012). The emergence of organizations and markets. New Jersey, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Phillips, D. (2011). Jazz and the disconnected: City structural disconnectedness and the emergence of a jazz canon, 1897–1933. American Journal of Sociology, 117(2), 420–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pritchard, J. (2011). Les Ballets Russes de Diaghilev—quand l’art danse avec la musique. Paris: Hayot.Google Scholar
  31. Jones, S. (2013). Literature, modernism, and dance. Oxford UK: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rand, P. (2009). Introduction. In A. Purvis, R. Peter, & W. Anna (Eds.), The Ballets Russes and the Art of Design. New York, NY: Monacelli Press.Google Scholar
  33. Semenova, O. (2010). The dialogue of cultures and the culture of dialogue. Saint Petersburg, Russia: Saint Petersburg State University Publishing House.Google Scholar
  34. Simonton, D. (2004). Creativity in science: Chance, logic, genius, and zeitgeist. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sgourev, S. V. (2013). How Paris gave rise to Cubism (and Picasso): Ambiguity and fragmentation in radical innovation. Organization Science, 24(6), 1601–1617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sgourev, S. V. (2015). Brokerage as catalysis: How Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes escalated Modernism. Organization Studies, 36(3), 343–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Weick, K. (1995). Sensemaking in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers.Google Scholar
  38. Vailland, R. (1963). Le Regard froid: Réflexions, esquisses, libelles, 1945–1962. Paris: Bernard Grasset.Google Scholar
  39. Vosburg, S. (1998). The effects of positive and negative mood on divergent-thinking performance. Creativity Research Journal, 11(2), 165–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ESSEC Business SchoolCergy-PontoiseFrance

Personalised recommendations