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Title:Creativity in the language of business: A textual analysis of the managerial literature
Author(s):Becker, Madelle R.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Farmer, Helen S.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Business Administration, Management
Speech Communication
Education, Business
Abstract:This study used discourse analysis to investigate the implicit theories held by business regarding creativity. All 556 articles indexed individually under creativity headings in the Business Periodicals Index from 1958 to 1991 were analyzed in terms of author, audience, purpose, content, and style. Employee creativity appears to be the main context in which creativity was discussed. Articles discussing creativity of organizations, managers, or regular employees had increasing creativity as their most often mentioned major theme, with the nature of creativity second, and managerial issues third. For articles discussing scientific/technical employees, increasing creativity was first, managerial issues was second, and the nature of creativity third. For articles discussing creative employees, managing them was first, followed by increasing creativity and the nature of creativity. This suggests that creative employees were seen as different, requiring different management techniques. Authors tended to rely on appeal to authority for persuasive support. This suggests an authoritarian posture which does not seem consistent with a rational decision-making managerial style or current claims for participatory management. Authors were direct and indirect when describing creative employees. Seventy-two percent of the direct descriptors were neutral; however, there were twice as many (19%) negative direct descriptors as positive (9%). Forty-eight percent of the indirect descriptors were negative, 38% were neutral, and 14% were positive. The descriptors contained factual contradictions which reflect disagreements between authors about the characteristics of creative employees, and interpretative contradictions which demonstrate differences in how authors perceived the same characteristic. The direct descriptors contained rhetorical contradictions in which authors used different terms to describe the same characteristics, thus communicating very different meanings. Some of the descriptors were condescending and discriminatory. These separated creative employees as different, difficult, and pathological, and infantalized them. The presence of this language in a national, professional literature whose purpose is to inform does not bode well for the relationship between managers and creative employees. Findings also suggest it is appropriate to explore a dynamic theory of creativity which would assert that creativity is not a constant construct; it changes, taking different forms, depending on the context.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Becker, Madelle R.
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512299
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512299

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