Creative in Paris: but where was the Général?

July 5, 2010

Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger

June 2010. The University of Paris hosts a creativity conference. In fact it hosts two at the same time. Buy one, get one free?

We stayed at the Place du Pantheon. How appropriate. We were able to pay homage to the ‘Grands Hommes’ of France, (and rather fewer Grandes Femmes it must be said) of the last two hundred years. Pride of place to Voltaire and Rousseau, resting in state in the cool basement of the vast edifice. At ground level, the pendulum of [Leon] Foucault still gently demonstrating the rotation of the earth, as it has done since the 1850s, give or take the odd period of malfunction such as when its 67 meter wire snapped after a century of service to science education.

But where was the Général?

Grands Hommes de France. But where was Napoleon? Moved to an even more majestic tomb. …and Charles de Gaulle? An attendant sniffily reminded us that the Général had opted for his famous little village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises as his last resting place. Mais oui, merci madame.

Meanwhile

Meanwhile, half way across Paris, two conferences were swinging into action, even sharing a registration area. ‘Our’ conference was termed a community workshop organized through the editorial board of Creativity and Innovation Management Journal, and hosted from several faculties of the University of Paris. There was a strong representation from MBS, with the keynote address on creativity and leadership from doctoral alumnus Gerard Puccio, director of The International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY, Buffalo.

Margaret Bruce also presented, sharing a workshop on the value of design, with James Moultrie, Cambridge University, and Gerda Gemser of Delft University of Technology. James was, in addition, winner of the annual best paper award of CIM with co-worker Alistair Young. His workshop topic was a fresh estimate of he contribution of design activities within the UK economy (in the region of 5%). His paper demonstrated an ingenious method of comparing the factors from two major theories of creativity (by Teresa Amabile and Goran Ekvall) in empirical studies of organizations within the so-called creative industries.

What’s Hot in creativity studies?

So what’s hot in creativity studies at present? The relationship between creativity and leadership. Identifying creative talent and its contingent factors. Organizational creativity, and the special nature of the creative industries and their role in economic recovery. Creativity and design, entrepreneurship and innovation.

The themes are familiar ones, but a renewed vigour might be detected as more traditional means of designing social and economic change have been found wanting in an era of financial meltdown.