The Experience of Being Creative at Work: Embracing Paradox, Polarity and Tension

Herbert, Diane (2022) The Experience of Being Creative at Work: Embracing Paradox, Polarity and Tension. Doctoral thesis, Buckinghamshire New University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
Final PhD Thesis (Revised) 28.06.2022-combined.pdf - Published Version
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This research explores how creative workers experience being creative at work and how parts of the organisational system influence and shape the experience of creativity, through the theoretical lens of social and systems models of creativity. Whilst creativity is acknowledged as important to businesses involved in this research, there is limited understanding of the emotional experience of creativity or how creative workers might be better managed and supported to facilitate creativity. Three studies were conducted using multiple qualitative methods. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Study 1 explored, through semi-structured interviews, how 11 creative workers within eight different organisations experienced being creative. Findings highlighted participants' needs for close and supportive relationships and to feel valued for their work. Study 2 was a case study of how one creative organisation, its creative employees and leaders experienced and coped with the creative process as a team. Data were collected through five semi-structured interviews with leaders, three focus groups with junior creative workers, observation of three meetings and analysis of corporate documentation. Findings highlighted tensions arising from the need to balance the childlike qualities of creativity with the ability to safely function within a rational organisational context. Study 3, an autoethnography, reflected on how the research changed my approach to work and proposed ways in which managers might behave to lead creativity more effectively. The research expands Amabile and Pratt’s (2016) and Csíkszentmihályi's (1988) social and systemic models of creativity by highlighting the subjective, phenomenological experience of being creative at work, considering how the individual and organisational context contribute to this. By explicitly examining the emotional experience of creativity, a theoretical perspective that considers creativity's impact on employee wellbeing is provided. The research proposes MERMA-ID as a new third wave positive psychology model of creativity, reflecting the complex and paradoxical nature of creativity. The research contributes to positive organisational scholarship (Cameron et al., 2003) by articulating individual and systemic experiences of creativity, describing systemic tensions and ways in which managers might lead creativity more effectively.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Depositing User: RED Unit Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 15:34
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2022 15:34

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