Creativity and Business Innovation

Stefano Tasselli

Innovation and Creativity are often seen as crucial for individual success and companies’ performance, and indeed for economic growth and social development. Business innovation is broader in scope than product or technological innovation, as it also involves changes to organizational processes, structures and services. Creativity is a central aspect of innovation, as it drives the generation of new ideas and behaviours. Thus, studying creativity is crucial for understanding innovation, and indeed for becoming more creative. Yet, many questions remain open. Are novel ideas based on imagination leaps or incremental processes? Is creativity about finding new solutions or about exploring new problems altogether? How can we become more creative? Moreover, is it always the “best” solutions that prevail in the market? If not, what else matters for success? In addition to creativity, innovation requires tailored expertise, coordinated resources and appropriate structures.

Thus, most types of business innovation rely on a collective endeavour driven by the top management and employees from different functional areas. Collaboration with internal and external parties and constant changes of market and competitive factors expand innovation opportunities; however, they also complicate the innovation management process.

This course will address the above topics taking you through a journey from the creative processes within our minds to the management of innovation within organisations.

The first module will explore the challenges and opportunities offered by the management of innovation. We will investigate different types of business innovation, and focus on the innovation process firms undergo to develop and introduce a new product or service to the market. We will then examine examples of organizational and operational innovations and discuss the role of entrepreneurship in innovation management.

In the second module we will look closely at the feedstock of innovation – creativity. In the lectures we will dissect the key elements of creative work – novelty and usefulness. We will study how current knowledge is used to find new solutions – or indeed new problems. We will then examine the conditions under which creative ideas are successful and become innovations. In the seminars, we will run practical activities to stimulate creativity and to experience what we learned in the lectures.

In both modules, we will emphasize the relational aspects of innovation and creativity: innovation does not happen in isolation. People become creative, and generate innovation, through processes of social interaction with others. We will explore therefore the power of social networks in fostering individual creativity and facilitate business innovation.

This course is aimed at: Creativity and innovation are paramount in business as well as in many activities and sectors of modern societies. Therefore, this course will appeal not only to students whose main interest is in management studies, but to anyone with a broad interest in creativity and innovation.

Pre-requisite knowledge required: No previous knowledge of business, psychology, sociology, social sciences or philosophy is required, but may be an advantage.

Compulsory reading

To be read before the beginning of the course

  • Sawhney, M., Wolcott, R.C. & Arroniz, I. (2006) The 12 Different Ways for Companies to Innovate. MIT Sloan Management Review, 47(3): 75-81.
  • Ward, T. B., Smith, S. M., & Finke, R. A. (1999) Creative Cognition. In: R. J. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity: 189-212. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Munir, K. A. & Jones, M. (2004) Discontinuity and After: the Social Dynamics of Technology Evolution and Dominance. Organization Studies, 25(4): 561-581.

To be read during the course

  • Tushman, M. & Nadler, D. (1986) Organizing for Innovation. California Management Review, 28(3): 74-92.
  • Desouza, K.C., Dombrowski, C., Awazu, Y., Baloh, P., Papagari, S., Jha, S. & Kim, J.Y. (2009) Crafting Organizational Innovation Processes. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 11(1): 6-33.
  • Chiesa, V. & Frattini, F. (2011) Commercializing Technological Innovation: Learning from Failures in High-Tech Markets. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(4): 437-454.
  • Chesbrough, HW., Vanhaverbeke., W. & West, J. (2006) Open innovation: Researching a New Paradigm. Chapter 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1-27.
  • Hammer, M. (2004) Deep Change. Harvard Business Review, 82(4): 84-93.
  • Reichstein, T. & Salter, A. (2006) Investigating the sources of process innovation among UK manufacturing firms. Industrial & Corporate Change, 15(4):653-682.
  • Freeman, J. & Engel, J.S. (2007) Models of Innovation: Start-ups and Mature Corporations. California Management Review, 50(1): 94-119.
  • Kozbelt, A., Beghetto, R. A., & Runco, M. A. (2010) Theories of Creativity. In: J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity: 20-47. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wertheimer, M. (1959) Dynamics and Logic of Productive Thinking. In M. Wertheimer, Productive Thinking: 234-259. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Weisberg, R. W. (1995). Case Studies of Creative Thinking: Reproduction versus Restructuring in the Real World. In S. Smith, T. B. Ward, & R. A. Finke (Eds.). The creative cognition approach: 53-72. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Getzels, J.B. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1976) Problem Finding and the Creative Process. In J.B. Getzels & M. Csikszentmihalyi, The Creative Vision: A Longitudinal Study of Problem Finding in Art: 77-106. New York: Wiley.
  • Dougherty, D. & Heller, T. (1994) The Illegitimacy of Successful Product Innovation in Established Firms. Organization Science, 5: 200-218.


1 Final Exam: 50% related to the first module on the Management of Innovation

1 Final Essay (2,500 words): 50% related to the second module on Creativity and Innovation

A mid-term exam, which will not count towards the final grade, will provide feedback in relation to the expectations and grading of the final exam.

Lecture Hours: 12 x 1hour 15minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminar Hours: 8x 1hour 15minutes (total 10 hours)