Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Sociology, Organisation Theory

Publication Details

This paper is submitted for Sub-theme 36: Creativity in doubtful times: Exploring challenges and threats to creativity, Paper presented at the 30th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloqium, Rotterdam. 2014


This paper presents preliminary findings deriving from a larger project investigating the performance of collaborative creativity and is primarily concerned with describing the communication patterns of such performance. Interactions between different domain experts in Ireland’s Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin, were observed and recorded over the course of four months in 2011. The interactions have been loosely transcribed using the basic principles of CA. Preliminary findings include three observations. Firstly, creative performances involve a type of content we call ‘idea talk’. Secondly, performances of creative collaboration involve variance, not equality, in participation by individual experts. Variance in participation in group creativity is somewhat in tension with findings from the equality of participation celebrated in the brainstorming literature (Osborn, 1979 ) and reported from research in other collaborative groups ( Sawyer, 2007, Sonnenburg, 2004 Steiner, 2009). Thirdly, the role of the facilitator in creative collaborations requires a flexibility to move between roles of facilitator and participant and the communications skills to summarise and express the ideas of others as well as their own ideas. The character of what we call ‘idea talk’, the variance in paricipation and the multifaceted role of the facilitator may help define creative collaborations and in doing so, distinguish them from other group interactional forms such as meetings, focus groups, brainstorming sessions and other collaborative contexts.