From conception to consumption: creativity and the missing managerial link

P. Thompson, M. Jones, C. Warhurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


The paper argues that two sets of claims can be identified across the literatures - the first that creative work is the driving force of a new economy (creative intensity). Second, that cultural industries have a special kind of creativity at its core - the aesthetic attributes of product and process (creative distinctiveness). After examining the literatures and evidence we conclude that little explanatory power resides in expanded conceptions of each set of industries. The central problem in such literatures is that they frequently move from conception to consumption, leaving a gap where concrete analysis of management, work, and employment relations should be. Whilst ultimately there are only cultural industries with their own logics and dynamics, given the nature of symbolic goods and the associated indeterminacy of outcomes, a narrower conception of creative distinctiveness in cultural industries has some analytical purchase. This is explored in the context of the popular music industry, where we outline a double articulation of creativity: musicians may self-manage their own creativity, but within a framework whereby record company personnel engage in multiple points of management, setting the terms of access to resources and influence, and ultimately to the market-place.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-640
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • creativity
  • human resource management
  • aesthetics
  • consumption


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