New book emphasizes key role social interaction plays in creativity

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While some organizational decision-makers focus their attention on capital and physical resources, a new book reveals that effective people management should take center stage in the innovation process.

The "Handbook of Research on Creativity and Innovation" represents the most advanced research in the field, according to co-editors Jing Zhou, professor of management and psychology at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business, and Bess Rouse, associate professor at Boston College's Carroll School of Management.

Effective innovation starts with creativity—the generation of new and useful ideas—according to Zhou.

"Innovation is essential for all industries and types of jobs," she said. "Whether organizations are engaging in digital transformation, developing new products, designing new services, creating new channels to interface with suppliers or customers, or reimagining business models, innovation is at the core of all these endeavors"

Early creativity research attempted to identify personal attributes that separate from those who are not. But contemporary study of creativity and has shown the importance of social context in shaping individual and team creativity, according to Zhou. The second section of the addresses various aspects of how team culture affects creativity, including in leadership.

The handbook also includes an investigation on how various constraints influence team creative processes and why, paradoxically, they have a positive impact on interactions among team members in their collective effort to produce creative ideas, said Zhou.

The authors also point out the need to examine a broader range of consequences of creativity beyond the financial bottom line of an organization. They show how engaging in increases social connections and can even combat a sense of loneliness.

The authors hope the handbook offers a platform for idea exchange and stimulates future research.

"By highlighting old truths and new trends, the handbook provides definitional and measurement foundations for conducting rigorous quantitative and qualitative research," said Zhou.

Provided by Rice University

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