There is a huge societal interest in creativity, which is often thought of as indispensable for the future prosperity of the knowledge economies. However, we don’t know why creativity often gets killed rather than promoted. (The main purpose of the center is to answer this question. By doing naturalistic inquiry of real-life creative processes, skills and products, the project contributes to creativity research by:
1) adding a fieldwork dimension to the existing, predominantly laboratory based research traditions
2) studying what the creativity imperative actually does to individuals, groups, organizations and society
3) explaining why products, skills and processes cease to be perceived as innovative
Despite the interest in creativity, there is still a lack of knowledge of what creativity actually is and how to promote it. The most prevalent ways of studying creativity proceed by presenting research participants with predetermined assignments that must be solved cognitively, but real-life problems are rarely predetermined in this way. Real-life problems that call for creativity are situated and contextual. They demand much more than pure cognition (e.g. affect, will and sociality) and cannot be captured in laboratories. Furthermore, there is little research that sheds light on what might be called the dark side of creativity. The dark side is related to the fact that the widespread demand to “be creative!” may be a counterproductive pressure that paradoxically leads to less creativity. This demand may moreover generate burnout and give parts of the population a feeling of not being able to catch up. In addition, not all forms of creativity are socially acceptable (cf. creative book-keeping). The project is unique in its broad ambitions to not only study creativity naturalistically, but also to put emphasis on the potentially detrimental effects of the contemporary creativity discourse.
The Center for Creativity Research (CfC) will be the first of its kind in the world to take this broad perspective on creativity. It will build in particular on the expertise in the areas of creativity research and qualitative inquiry with researchers in psychology, history, sociology, aesthetics and cultural studies from Aalborg University, combined with international participants who are leading authorities in the field.