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Making creativity and innovation happen
Making creativity and innovation happen

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1.3 Intercultural perspectives

In a world where English has emerged as the de facto lingua franca of business and places like Silicon Valley are the epicentre of innovation in their field, it is easy to forget that much creativity continues to happen in diverse cultural environments.

In the modern, globalised age it is tempting to focus solely on the common features different organisations or perhaps even different people share. This temptation is made all the worse by the fact that when people from different linguistic backgrounds meet there is at very least a good chance that they will communicate through the medium of English.

Despite this, a 2016 study by Vlad Gaveanu of the University of Aalborg in Denmark, together with advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, found quite distinct differences in how creativity is perceived and understood in different countries. Interviewing 806 people in eight different countries, the study found different views on where creativity stems from between the countries. The three distinct views were that the basis of creativity was from:

  • the creative genius who is gifted with specific insights
  • creative individuals who see creativity as an individual pursuit, even if they are not necessarily as gifted with insights as a creative genius
  • creative collaboration, which holds that creativity grows out of teamwork and collaboration.

While this research found some clear commonalities across cultures, it also identified some key differences – and punctured some of the prevailing myths of creativity:

A dominant emphasis on the creative individual rather than creative collaboration is found primarily in the US (75.2%) and China (72%), a finding which belies China’s collectivist heritage...

The creative individual paradigm attracted more temperate support from the UK (57%), Russia (55.9%) and Germany (50%). Conversely, a stronger emphasis on creative collaboration as opposed to individuals is specific for Brazil (65.3%) and Turkey (69%). In India, both paradigms coexist and score very highly (73%). Interestingly, Indians also support the idea of the creative genius the most enthusiastically.

(Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, 2016, p. 8)

These findings hint at the wide range of myths of creativity. While inevitably some are grounded in fact, others owe more to pop-psychology and mysticism than anything else. You will look at some of the common myths of creativity next.