Creativity and Innovation: Theory, Research, and Practice
reviewed by Katherine Ziff - March 06, 2017
Jonathan A. Plucker has made a useful contribution to the literature on creativity with his edited book Creativity and Innovation: Theory, Research, and Practice. The volume is a snapshot of scholarship on creativity at this moment in time, including contributions from a variety of scholars and practitioners. It would be a fine text for those teaching an introductory course on creativity. It would also be a useful resource for those practicing in an array of fields like teacher education, educational technology, higher education, psychology, business, human services, creative fields, curriculum and technology, and education administration and leadership.
The format of Creativity and Innovation is clear. This enables readers to quickly grasp a summary of each topic before examining it in greater depth. Each chapter begins with a list of Key Take-Aways. The book is over 300 pages in length and it addresses topics with a massive body of scholarship. Each chapter ends with a list of recommended readings and a reference list. Seven Hot Topics are distributed throughout and they delve into perennial questions about creativity.
The fourteen chapters fall naturally (though not by label) into three broad questions. First, what is creativity? Second, what are conditions for, mechanisms of, and variations in creativity? Third, how might creativity apply to various interest groups, demographics, and constituencies?
The first three chapters address aspects of what is creativity. Gayle T. Dow traces a history of scholarship that defines creativity by going back over two thousand years. This involves contrasting Socrates and Plato’s thoughts on creativity (e.g., the sources of creativity are the creative muses) with those of Aristotle (e.g., creativity is a cognitive, goal-directed act). She ends with a thorough discussion of the emergence of little-c versus Big-C creativity and their relationship. The author’s table on the history and evolution of definitions of creativity would make a nice starting point for an elaboration of this concept. Ronald A. Beghetto and James C. Kaufman provide an overview of creativity theories. They engage in an extensive discussion of the 4-C model of creativity and a summary of key theoretical questions. This takes us beyond Csikszentmihalyi’s assertion that creativity must refer to a process that results in an idea that is recognized and adopted by others (p. 227). In Chapter Three, David H. Cropley breaks down the fourth p in the 4 c’s definition of creativity, namely products. Three special Hot Topics are elaborated in terms of what is creativity. In a discussion of the dark side of creativity, Mark A. Runco examines the malevolence of the products of creativity, both intended and unintended. Richard N. Dino compares and contrasts creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Qian and Plucker outline some of the ways that creativity is measured. The book’s discussion of what is creativity covers a lot of ground. However, it could have been rounded out with a discussion of the esoteric thread of ancient Greek philosophy. It does contain a nod to contemporary work on creativity through the case of the defrocked priest Matthew Fox.
Several chapters discuss conditions for, mechanisms of, and variations in creativity. For example, Richard Florida offers a conceptual framework of the role of human capital (e.g., creative people) in creating regional innovation and economic growth in Chapter Four. He outlines how creative people are attracted to places that are diverse, tolerant, and open to new ideas. In Chapter Five, Cynthia Sifonis and Thomas B. Ward discuss a creative cognition approach and the cognitive mechanisms that support creative thought. Dean Keith Simonton examines creative productivity across people’s lifespans through a discussion of career trajectories and his work on early versus late bloomers in Chapter Six. While an analysis of gender is missing from this chapter, the influence of historic gender roles may be read between the lines. In terms of childhood, Sandra W. Russ and Alexis W. Lee discuss the substantial role of pretend play in the development of aspects of creativity such as divergent thinking and storytelling in Chapter Seven. They present a compelling argument that is also articulated by psychologists such as Peter Gray (2013) on encouraging pretend play in the education of children. An additional discussion of Glaveneu’s work supporting the notion that children can be creative would be a nice extension of this chapter (2011). The ninth and tenth chapters and the fourth and sixth Hot Topics all center around personality, motivation, and mental health in creativity. They will be of interest to many readers, particularly educators and psychologists. These chapters discuss the roles of motivation, the dispositions of a creative personality, the frequently misunderstood connection between creativity and mental illness, and the paradoxical relationship between creativity and conformity.
The eighth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteen, and fourteenth chapters are generally about the application of creativity to various settings and possible uses. These include education, business, leadership, technology, and leisure pursuits.
Creativity and Innovation, with its summary treatment of a variety of topics, would be a useful introductory text for a course on creativity or a companion text to general courses in the fields of business, psychology, or education. The reading list at the end of each chapter provides direction for further investigation. Likewise, the preview points at the beginning of each chapter prepare readers by providing an organizational framework for its content. We look forward to the possibility of an updated and expanded future edition of the book.
Fox, M. (2004). Creativity: Where the divine and the human meet. New York, NY: Tarcher Penguin.
Gray, P. (2013). Free to learn: Why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Glaveneu, V. P. (2011). Children and creativity: A most (un)likely pair? Thinking Skills and Creativity, 6(2), 122–131.