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From creativity to innovation : the social networks drivers of the four phases of the idea journey


Academy of Management Review


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Perry-Smith J E;Mannucci P V

Publication Year



Interest has burgeoned, in recent years, in how social networks influence individual creativity and innovation. From both the theoretical and empirical points of view, this increased attention has generated many inconsistencies. In this article we propose that a conceptualization of the idea journey encompassing phases that the literature has so far overlooked can help solve existing tensions. We conceptualize four phases of the journey of an idea, from conception to completion: idea generation, idea elaboration, idea championing, and idea implementation. We propose that a creator has distinct primary needs in each phase: cognitive flexibility, support, influence, and shared vision, respectively. Individual creators successfully move through a phase when the relational and structural elements of their networks match the distinct needs of the phase. The relational and structural elements that are beneficial for one phase, however, are detrimental for another. We propose that in order to solve this seeming contradiction and the associated paradoxes, individual creators have to change interpretations and frames throughout the different phases. This, in turn, allows them to activate different network characteristics at the appropriate moment and successfully complete the idea journey from novel concept to a tangible outcome that changes the field.

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