Hargadon, A.B., Bechky, B.A. (2006). When Collections of Creatives Become Creative Collectives: A Field Study of Problem Solving at Work. Organization Science, 17(4), 484-500.

This paper introduces a model of collective creativity that explains how the locus of creative problem solving shifts, at times, from the individual to the interactions of a collective. The model is grounded in observations, interviews, informal conversations, and archival data gathered in intensive field studies of work in professional service firms. The evidence suggests that although some creative solutions can be seen as the products of individual insight, others should be regarded as the products of a momentary collective process. Such collective creativity reflects a qualitative shift in the nature of the creative process, as the comprehension of a problematic situation and the generation of creative solutions draw from—and reframe—the past experiences of participants in ways that lead to new and valuable insights. This research investigates the origins of such moments, and builds a model of collective creativity that identifies the precipitating roles played by four types of social interaction: help seeking, help giving, reflective reframing, and reinforcing. Implications of this research include shifting the emphasis in research and management of creativity from identifying and managing creative individuals to understanding the social context and developing interactive approaches to creativity, and from a focus on relatively constant contextual variables to the alignment of fluctuating variables and their precipitation of momentary phenomena.