DOI: 10.18536/bcce.2017., Forsman

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Creativity is Just a Small Emerging Moment: An Ethnographic Investigation of Work Practices in a Changing Human Resources Department

Panu Forsman
University of Jyväskylä

Forsman, P. (2017). Creativity is just a small emerging moment: An ethnographic investigation of work practices in a changing human resources department. Business Creativity and the Creative Economy, 3, 17-30. https://doi.org/10.18536/bcce.2017.


Creativity can be addressed as a complex or a parsimonious phenomenon. While the dominant complex views encompass both creative and non-creative properties, the parsimonious view focuses on the bare essentials of creativity. Here creativity was examined through a parsimonious view and an ethnographic framework. The purpose was to elaborate the nature of creativity, with a meta-creative focus on how creativity was manifested in the everyday life of thirty employees in a human resources department in a Finnish health care district. The data were based on observations, shadowing, and digital recordings that were analyzed thematically. Creativity was found to exist as a small emerging moment liminal with routine-oriented practices. Further, creativity emerged as situational ideas that included novel properties and potential value. Overall, creativity appeared to be manifested as independent moments, rather than as complex linear or recursive processes. However, since these moments were connected to, but not conflated with larger processes, such small creative moments were seen subsumed within more complex views of creativity. Creativity is a “big” thing, and until now, the focus has been on the tip of the iceberg, rather than on the submerged essentials. The parsimonious view of creativity as a small emerging moment is a fruitful approach for future research.