Document Type

Conference Paper


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


Business and Management., public administration, Organisation Theory, Media and socio-cultural communication

Publication Details

Paper presented at the Organizational Discourse 2014 Conference : Terra Firms, Terra Nova, Terra Incognita Cardiff.


Discourses of creativity tempt us with promises of treasures from terra incognito (Cox, 2005). Creativity is central to the enterprise culture of our age and there is a dark side to such temptations (O'Rourke, 2010;Osborne, 2003; Rehn & De Cock, 2009). Creativity’s role in the enterprise culture may mean that like other aspects of enterprise culture, though many are called, few are chosen (Ainsworth & Hardy, 2008). This paper presents preliminary findings on data deriving from a larger project investigating creativity on the interactions between some special people that might be expected to be particularly creative (discipline experts from different arts and sciences) in a special place that might be expected to privilege creativity (Leadbeater, 2005). Our terra rara of creativity is Ireland’s Science Gallery at Trinity College, Dublin, where interactions between different domain experts 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 participation 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.