by Stephen Downes
Dec 24, 2015
Why No One Really Wants Creativity
Barry M. Straw,
Foundations of Creativity,
The media and popular press lead us to celebrate the innovative and creative, but few would want such people in their organization, much less to be one themselves, writes Barry M. Straw. "The popular press, along with the collusion of many consultants and academics, has sold us the notion that we can reap the rewards of a Galileo, Edison or Picasso without paying the full price... when confronted with the bald truth that most scientists never come up with earthshaking findings, most new businesses end in failure, and most whistle-blowers get demoted or fired, it is not surprising that people generally opt for a safer, more normal life." Via Scott Johnson. Image: Art.is
What Theory is Not
Robert I. Sutton; Barry M. Staw,
Administrative Science Quarterly,
Useful post from 1995 that every aspiring writer should read. It outlines five things theories are not (education writers should especially take note), offers a solid definition of a theory, and offers several arguments against theories. Here are the things theories are not:
- References are not theory - "authors need to explicate which concepts and causal arguments are adopted from cited sources...";
- Data are not theory - "observed patterns... rarely constitute causal explanations";
- Lists of variables or constructs are not theories - "a theory must also explain why lists of variables or constructs come about or why they are connected";
- Diagrams are not theory - "they rarely explain why the proposed connections will be observed";
- Hypotheses (or predictions) are not theory - they "are statements about what is expected to opccur, not why it is expected to occur."
So what is a theory. Here is their proposal: "theory is the answer to queries of why. Theory is about the connections among phenomena, a story about why acts, events, structure and thoughts occur. Theory emphasizes the nature of causal relationships, identifying what comes first as well as the timing of such events."
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