Sub-theme 72: Spaces for Creativity and Innovation within and across Organizational Boundaries

Patrick Cohendet
HEC Montréal, Canada
Amalya L. Oliver
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
Jörg Sydow
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Call for Papers

The need for novel and useful solutions seems in society greater than ever before. Organizations, but also interorganizational arrangements such as networks, communities, platforms and technological consortia have to organize creative processes in order to contribute innovative products and services and/or excel with innovative structures and processes in more or less competitive environments. The locus of creativity and innovation with new knowledge, products or processes takes place many times while passing of organizational boundaries into what was termed: "in-between spaces" (Yström & Agogué, 2020). These were characterized as spaces between actors that are created by and simultaneously are creating social interactions and constitute collaborations and lead to creativity and innovation. From this focus on spaces and social interactions, new organizational theoretical approaches and research questions can emerge.
Recent research in this area focus on resources such as time and structure, and how they act as enabling as well as constraining factors in collaborative processes (Altman, Nagle & Tushman, 2015; April, Oliver, & Kalish, 2019). Other discuss either the puzzling relevance of constraints in creative processes (Lampel, Honig, & Drori, 2014; Ortmann & Sydow, 2018) or explicitly focus on temporary or permanent experimental spaces for creating, for instance, new routines (Bucher & Langley, 2016). Another research stream focuses on the social networks that are formed in the creative and innovative space within or across organizational boundaries (Perry-Smith & Mannucci, 2017; Amin & Cohendet, 2005; Cohendet & Simon, 2015). These networks can vary by structure and membership over time (Kalish & Oliver, 2021), or by the exchange processes they capture (Bouncken & Aslam, 2019).
For the creative process to unfold its dynamic and become institutionalized, another level of interactions needs to be included. According to Grandadam et al. (2013) or Lange and Schüßler (2017), creative processes critically rely on the ‘middleground’, which consists of intermediary groups and communities that link the informal communities of the underground with the formal organizations from the ‘upperground’. Finally, there are issues that can constrain creative and innovative processes in such in-between spaces. Issues of intellectual capital are one such element (Konno & Schillaci, 2021), trust (Oliver, Montgomery & Barda, 2020) and issues of competition and collaboration (Bullinger et al., 2010) are other examples.
For this sub-theme, we particularly welcome papers that adopt such process- or practice-based perspectives (Fortwengel, Schüßler & Sydow (2017) and focus on micro-level mechanisms, organizational and network-based analysis. We invite contributions that advance, contest, or change our understanding of "in-between spaces" collaborative knowledge creation and that are open to new core questions in organization and management theory. Papers may address issues related (but not limited) to the following topics:

  • Theorizing processes of creativity and innovation beyond organizational boundaries;

  • NGOs’ creative and innovative collaborations and the improvement of their practices;

  • Networks of creativity and innovation where the idea journey is explored;

  • New forms of open spaces (open labs, makerspaces, etc.). Emergence and dynamics of intermediary structures such as the middleground;

  • Enabling and constraining forces in creative collaborations with and beyond organizational boundaries;

  • Differences of organizational embeddedness in the study of creativity and innovation in between spaces;

  • Issues of intellectual capital and knowledge sharing in processes of collaborative creativity and innovation in between spaces;

  • Inter-personal or inter-organizational trust as facilitator of creativity and innovation in in-between spaces.

The sub-theme intends to stimulate a constructive dialogue around conceptual and empirical research across these and related issues. High-quality, novel contributions in both early and later stages of development are warmly invited.


  • Altman, E.J., Nagle, F., & Tushman, M. (2015): “Innovating without information constraints: Organizations, communities, and innovation when information costs approach zero.” In: C.E. Shalley, M.A. Hitt & J. Zhou (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. New York: Oxford University Press, 353–379.
  • Amin, A., & Cohendet, P. (2004): Architectures of Knowledge: Firms, Capabilities, and Communities. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • April, S., Oliver, A.L., & Kalish, Y. (2019): “Organizational creativity‐innovation process and breakthrough under time constraints: Mid‐point transformation.” Creativity and Innovation Management, 28 (3), 318–328.
  • Bouncken, R., & Aslam, M.M. (2019): “Understanding knowledge exchange processes among diverse users of coworking-spaces.” Journal of Knowledge Management, 23 (10), 2067–2085.
  • Bucher, S., & Langley, A. (2016): “The interplay of reflective and experimental spaces in interrupting and reorienting routine dynamics.” Organization Science, 27, 594–613.
  • Bullinger, A.C., Neyer, A.K., Rass, M., & Moeslein, K.M. (2010): “Community‐based innovation contests: Where competition meets cooperation.” Creativity and Innovation Management, 19 (3), 290–303.
  • Cohendet, P., & Simon, L. (2015): “Introduction to the special issue on creativity in innovation.” Technology Innovation Management Review, 5 (7), 5–13.
  • Fortwengel, J., Schüßler, E., & Sydow, J. (2017): “Studying organizational creativity as process: Fluidity or duality?” Creativity and Innovation Management, 26 (1), 5–16.
  • Grandadam, D., Cohendet, P., & Simon, L. (2013): “Places, spaces and the dynamics of creativity: The video game industry in Montreal.” Regional Studies, 47 (10), 1701–1714.
  • Kalish, Y., & Oliver, A.L. (2021): “Reducing the cost of knowledge exchange in consortia: network analyses of multiple relations.” Journal of Technology Transfer, 47, 775–803.
  • Konno, N., & Schillaci, C.E. (2021): “Intellectual capital in Society 5.0 by the lens of the knowledge creation theory.” Journal of Intellectual Capital, 22 (3), 478–505.
  • Lampel, J., Honig, B., & Drori, I. (2014): “Organizational ingenuity: Concept, processes and strategies.” Organization Studies, 35, 465–482.
  • Lange, B., & Schüßler, E. (2018): “Unpacking the middleground of creative cities: spatiotemporal dynamics in the configuration of the Berlin design field.” Regional Studies, 52 (11), 1548–1558.
  • Oliver, A.L., Montgomery, K., & Barda, S. (2020): “The multi-level process of trust and learning in university–industry innovation collaborations.” Journal of Technology Transfer, 45 (3), 758–779.
  • Ortmann, G., & Sydow, J. (2018): “Dancing in chains: Creative practices in/of organizations.” Organization Studies, 39 (7), 899–921.
  • Perry-Smith, J.E. & Mannucci, P.V. (2017): “From creativity to innovation: The social network drivers of the four phases of the idea journey.” Academy of Management Review, 42 (1), 53–79.
  • Yström, A., & Agogué, M. (2020): “Exploring practices in collaborative innovation: Unpacking dynamics, relations, and enactment in in‐between spaces.” Creativity and Innovation Management, 29 (1), 141–145.
Patrick Cohendet is Professor of Economics in the International Business Department at HEC Montréal, Canada, and Co-Director of the research unit Mosaic on the management of creativity and innovation. His research interests include theory of the firm, economics of innovation, economics of knowledge, economics of creativity and knowledge management.
Amalya L. Oliver is Professor of Organizational Sociology and Chair of Organizational Sociology at the Department of Sociology at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Her research focuses, among others, on networks, inter-organizational collaborations, creativity and innovation, professions, and technological entrepreneurship.
Jörg Sydow is Professor of Management and Chair of Inter-firm Cooperation at the School of Business & Economics at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. His research focuses, among others, on strategic alliances and networks, management and organization theory, temporary organizing, creativity and innovation, and industrial relations.