research@hec - Issue #16 - (Page VI)
Same-Discipline vs Cross-Discipline Interactions
It is commonly thought that cross-discipline interactions foster creativity as they provide exposure to new knowledge, lead to combination of ideas and offer new perspectives. Following this logic, same-discipline interactions were not considered as producing creativity. Kevyn Yong decided to question this postulate by studying the effects of samediscipline interactions on creativity in an interdisciplinary network. The author demonstrates that creativity is based on two other mechanisms – constructive controversy and competence-based trust – and that, in the presence of both, same-discipline network can have a creative advantage.
Kevyn Yong is professor at HEC since 2008 teaching organizational behaviour and creativity to MBA’s students. He first studied psychology and philosophy at the National University of Singapore before obtaining a Masters degree in Mind, Brain and Education from Harvard University, which he completed with a PhD in Management and Organizations at Cornell University.
DEFINITION OF CREATIVITY Since the late 80’s, creativity has been defined as the process of combining non-overlapping knowledge to generate fresh ideas that are novel and useful. The process of creativity can be decomposed into two phases: first gathering new ideas, knowledge and processes and then combining them with “old” ideas to find new ways of thinking or doing things. This definition, focused on the presence of nonoverlapping knowledge, led researchers to study mostly cross-discipline interactions. They provided evidence that interacting with someone with a different field of expertise facilitates creativity. This kind of interaction gives access to a larger scope
How does creativity work? Kevyn Yong’s work extends today’s understanding of the notion by dissecting the psychological mechanisms underlying the knowledge. creative process. Creativity is not only a question of having access to new information; it is also based on constructive controversy and competencebased trust. Under these conditions, same-discipline interactions can have a
creative advantage over cross-discipline ones by giving access to deeper new
BEYOND THE QUESTION OF NONOVERLAPPING KNOWLEDGE Kevyn Yong’s research on creativity proves that there is actually more to the process of creativity than accessing non-overlapping knowledge. Nonoverlapping knowledge alone does not determine creativity. It provides the potential for it but whether this new knowledge gets used depends on two psychological mechanisms: one that highlights and directs attention to differences and another that helps perceiving these differences can be useful ones. 1. Constructive controversy. Constructive controversy is defined as being comfortable openly discussing your own ideas with someone else’s, as well as being comfortable engaging in critically discussing someone else’s ideas. It corresponds
of ideas, knowledge or processes encouraging the second phase of creativity, i.e. the combination of old ideas with new ones. But all cross-functional teams are not necessarily creative ones: people tend to focus on what all participant of the discussion already know. What psychologists name “the common knowledge effect” results in a tendency to avoid conversations that could become conflicts. Similarly, we all have experienced discussions with a colleague that actually was creatively productive.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of research@hec - Issue #16
Cover & Contents
Real Options for Optimal Investment Strategies
Social Construction of Identity among Poor Consumers
Promoting Creativity Same-Discipline vs Cross-Discipline Interactions
Launch of the AXA – HEC Paris Chair
research@hec - Issue #16