Organizational Ingenuity: Concept, Processes and Strategies

Joseph Lampel*, Benson Honig, Israel Drori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this introduction to the special issue we explore the main features of 'organizational ingenuity', defined as 'the ability to create innovative solutions within structural constraints using limited resources and imaginative problem solving'. We begin by looking at the changing views of the importance of ingenuity for economic and social development. We next analyse the nature of ingenious solutions. This is followed by a discussion of structural, resource and temporal constraints that face problem solvers. We next turn our attention to creative problem solving under constraints. We contrast 'induced' and 'autonomous' problem solving. The first arises when external stakeholders or top managers impose tasks that define problems for the individuals and groups that must solve them; the second arises when these individuals and groups recognize and define the problems for themselves. We argue that in both induced and autonomous problem solving, individuals and groups that wish to act creatively confront two types of constraint. The first are 'product constraints' that define the features and functionalities that are necessary for a successful solution. The second are 'process constraints' that stand in the way of creative problem solving in a given organizational context. We argue that both types of constraints can lead to organizational ingenuity, but that dealing with process constraints is crucial for organizational ingenuity, and hence for sustaining organizational ingenuity more generally. We provide an overview summary of the articles in the special issue, and conclude with suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-482
Number of pages18
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • creativity
  • organizational constraints
  • organizational ingenuity
  • problem recognition


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