Students participate in debate day on creativity in a global context (NN9)

Study Board HA/cand.merc. / Operational Management and Psychology
Course title Organizational Creativity and Innovation
Course type/size Mandatory (approx. 100 students)
Teaching format Blended

NN connections of this activity

NN9 can be linked to issues of global inequality, international value chains, and sustainability.  In this course, students get the opportunity to discuss themes that involve tensions between the local and the global.

Teaching philosophy  

It’s a blended learning course with an emphasis on pedagogical progression from lecturing through studio-based workshops to critical discussions. This activity comes late in the course and covers reflection on how organizational creativity is practiced globally.  

Bo Christensen, Professor at the Department of Marketing 

Key objective(s) aligned with this activity

  • Recognize different psychological approaches to creativity in innovative as well as entrepreneurial organizations 
  • Critically discuss and reflect on dilemmas and challenges in organizational creativity 
  • Demonstrate ability to lead organizational creativity and innovation 

Description of the activity

In this course, the teacher moderates an on-campus debate day with the students. 
The course focuses on the leadership of creativity, and with that perspective, it is often difficult to look past the often-positive creative workshops and strategy seminars that take place close to management and see the negative sides that are hidden elsewhere in the value chain.  

How the activity is facilitated

In the debate, the positive side vs the dark side of creativity in a global context is discussed. 

The students are randomly split into 8 teams focusing on: 

1. Creative processes 

2. Creative individuals 

3. Creative environments, and  

4. Creative products. 

Half the students focus on the positive sides of creativity, and the other half on the negative sides. Each group gets 30 minutes to prepare for a panel debate, where they are to maintain their perspective throughout the debate. After the preparation, the teacher serves as moderator on four rounds of discussion. In each round, two groups (positive vs negative) enter into dialogue moderated by the teacher, who has prepared difficult questions for each side. After a round, we turn to the audience (the rest of class) for reflections.  
One thing that is debated is how creativity today has become a source of global inequality, where creativity is designed in the West but produced in Asia by workers under poor working conditions.  The case presents a counterexample to the typical focus in the creativity literature that diversity and inclusion benefit from creativity (positive aspects). Here, in a global context spread over the value chain, the focus shifts to global inequality (a negative aspect of creativity).  

In addition, a global perspective on creative production can highlight sustainability problems with mass consumption (pollution, exhaustion of natural resources, CO2 as negatives) as opposed to the positive aspects that creativity can bring to solve these and other problems. This can foster a debate about the hidden consequences of innovative product development, where the value is almost exclusively attributed to Western creative work processes while Eastern workers toil for slave wages in sweatshops producing the gadget. As such, it is a case of global inequality created through international value chains. This can be seen with Nike, and especially the fashion industry, which has had several similar cases. The cases serve as discussion starters in the debate. Key takeaways relate to how a change of perspective from local to global can also mean a shift in appreciation of the value of creative activity from positive to negative.