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Creativity on DemandThe Dilemmas of Innovation in an Accelerated Age$
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Eitan Y. Wilf

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226606835

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226607023.001.0001

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“Putting This Mess into a Structure”

“Putting This Mess into a Structure”

Cultural Contradictions and Discursive Resolutions

(p.55) Two “Putting This Mess into a Structure”
Creativity on Demand

Eitan Y. Wilf

University of Chicago Press

Innovation consultants must not only develop productive innovation strategies but also contend with the macrosociological landscapes in which business innovation is anchored. Set within a modern Western normative framework, consultants’ promise to build a stable corporate culture of innovation and organizational creativity embodies a basic cultural contradiction because modern Romantic normative ideals of creative agency connote unpredictability and resistance to formalization and routinization. Against this backdrop, the chapter analyzes the ways in which innovation workshop facilitators attempt to reframe this cultural contradiction and thus encourage workshop participants to inhabit the—on the surface, counter-intuitive—idea that innovation can and should be routinized, formalized, and rationalized. They do so by means of different ritual-semiotic communicative events. They first bring into being the specific macrosociological order that opposes a Romantic ethos (associated with mercurial human creativity) and a professional ethos (associated with rule-governed rationality). During the workshop this macrosociological order then becomes the basis for suggested transformations in the roles that participants inhabit with respect to innovation, namely from associating innovation with a Romantic ethos at the beginning of the workshop to accepting at its end that a professional ethos can lead to successful innovation as a permanent feature of the organization.

Keywords:   macrosociological order, cultural contradiction, Romantic ethos, professional ethos, ritual, semiosis, workshop, innovation, communicative event

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