Imagination and Creativity in Organizations

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Scholars adopting a relational ontology of organisational creativity have shifted attention away from a preoccupation with individual minds towards that which is enacted, emergent, shared, unpredictable and contingent. This article follows suit, yet breaks new ground by reconsidering how the mind plays an active role in unfolding creative interactions by building a bridge between literature on organisational creativity, aesthetics and philosophy of imagination. I draw on English Romanticism to craft a theoretical model of organisational creativity as an aesthetic and relational process of shared imagining. This model demonstrates how organisational members use primary and secondary modes of imagination and creative expression to develop, materialise and share perceptions and images of possible futures. By elaborating on their interplay, this article contributes to literature by theorising an active and generative role of mind that does not have the ontological shortcomings of leading theories. In turn, this has a number of implications for literature on entrepreneurship and organisational creativity in terms of situating and embodying creative thinking, explaining the intentionality and motivation for creative actions, overcoming perceptual differences and changing practices and routines.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-250
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number2/3
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Special Issue on 'Organizational Creativity, Play and Entrepreneurship'


I am grateful to the participants and conveners of 10th Organization Studies Summer Workshop for providing insights and encouragement at this study’s inception. I would also like to thank Wouter Stam, Elco van Burg, Floor van den Born, Karen Verduijn, Tom Elfring and other colleagues for their support and insight throughout the review process; Lisa Rebert and Sloane Markley for guidance on language and editing; and the three anonymous Organization Studies reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this article.

FundersFunder number
10th Organization Studies


    • English Romanticism
    • aesthetics
    • organisational creativity
    • philosophy of imagination
    • primary and secondary imagination


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