DOI: 10.18536/bcce.2017., Collin, Herranen, and Riivari

Jump to: Business Creativity and the Creative Economy | Volume 3

Which Aspects Frame Professional Agency and Creativity in Information Technology Work?

Kaija Collin, Sanna Herranen, and Elina Riivari
University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Collin, K., Herranen, S., & Riivari, E. (2017). Which aspects frame professional agency and creativity in information technology work? Business Creativity and the Creative Economy, 3, 88-98. https://doi.org/10.18536/bcce.2017.


Global competition has led to structural reforms and a new management culture, meaning tightened accountability, decreased professional autonomy, and a higher employee workload. Consequently, employees seem to have less control over their work and are in danger of losing their professional agency (manifested and practiced when professional subjects and/or communities influence, make choices, and take stances on their work and professional identities). Because creativity remains vital for productivity, effectiveness, and well-being in organizations, this ethnographic study explored the relationship between creativity and professional agency. Professional agency was predicted to be necessary for creativity at work. Similarly, creative work practices may be resourceful spaces for promoting professional agency. The present study asks the following question: which aspects of work practices frame professional agency and creativity in information technology (IT) work? The data include observations and interviews from two participating Finnish IT organizations. A qualitative content analysis indicated that creativity springs from professional agency in various context- and situation-specific ways. An aspect enhancing creativity in one situation may constrain it in another. This variability may induce various unexpected and unwanted forms of creativity—depending on the organizational viewpoint in question. Further research is recommended.these tensions have for creativity research and for businesses in a creative economy.