Sub-theme 28: Understanding novelty as everyday experience: pragmatist perspectives

Philippe Lorino
ESSEC Business School, France
Jaume Guia
University of Girona, Spain
Barbara Simpson
Strathclyde Business School, UK

Call for Papers

The French poet Comte de Lautréamont wrote: "La poésie doit être faite par tous. Non par un." ("Poetry should be made by all. Not by one".)* In other words, we all have a role to play in creating our futures. The implication that underlies this statement is that creativity is not the sole preserve of the gifted few, but rather it is part, albeit sometimes a barely discernible part, of everyday life. It is the human condition to continuously innovate as we adjust, and adjust to, the social contexts in which we operate. Novelty then, emerges when different actors bring different ways of thinking, feeling and acting into their social interactions and transactions. This everyday perspective on creativity and innovation demands that we pay attention to the dynamics of process, the sociality of human actors, and the embodied passions of their social practices and experiences.

In this sub-theme, we propose that Pragmatism, especially the ideas of Charles Saunders Peirce, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, and their later interpreters, provides new and useful ways of understanding creativity and innovation as the everyday flow of experience and inquiry. In particular, the Pragmatist thinkers were committed to a process ontology that transcends the dualisms which separate, for instance, body and mind, stability and change, habit and improvisation, consensus and conflict, and individual and collective levels of analysis. In his book "Art as Experience", Dewey sought to restore the continuity between works of art and the commonplace experience of everyday life, arguing that aesthetic experience begins in happy absorption in activity. This stresses the situatedness and path dependence of experience as actors innovate not only in, but also with and through their contexts and histories. Peirce's key contribution to this notion of everyday creativity arises from his challenge to the Aristotelian assertion that deduction and induction are the only two types of reasoning available to human actors. In his view, these do not adequately explain creative thinking and the experimental approach that actors adopt as they anticipate alternative futures. Accordingly he proposed abduction, or the generation of creative alternatives, as a third type of reasoning. Whereas Peirce was concerned primarily with logic, Mead focussed on the social psychological dimensions of interpersonal transactions. He argued that selves and contexts are reflexively co-constituted through communicative gesture and response cycles of meaning-making. For him, creative action emerges from the continuous, symbolically-mediated, mutual adjustment of meanings through social transactions.

We would like to use this sub-theme as a forum to explore the potential for pragmatism to inform approaches that frame creativity and innovation as passionate practices, not only in everyday organizational life, but also in our own everyday activities as researchers. We invite submissions that engage with the epistemological, theoretical, and/or methodological issues which arise in taking this approach. Empirical papers are especially welcome. In addition, we hope to continue to develop and support the community of like-minded scholars that emerged at the 23rd EGOS Colloquium in Vienna, through whole-group discussions and developmental feedback. Some, but by no means all, of the potential topics of inquiry include:

  • Creativity and innovation as emergent social processes situated in everyday experience
  • Creativity and innovation as passionate experiences involving both pleasure and suffering
  • Abduction, or the construction of new hypotheses, in creativity and innovation
  • The transactional, dialogical dynamic of creativity and innovation
  • Researchers as creative inquirers
  • The role of aesthetics and emotions in creative actions
  • Creativity and innovation as reflexive processes of inquiry
  • Creating and innovating as processes of inquiry that engage individuals in "communities of inquiry"
  • Using symbols, objects, instruments and artefacts to mediate creative action
  • Culture, tradition and habits as resources for creativity and innovation
  • Inquiry versus observation in research methodology
Philippe Lorino 
Jaume Guia 
Barbara Simpson