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Idea Work

What does it take to find oil in an area where many have tried, but failed? What does it take to design buildings that become prize-winning cultural landmarks? And what can the best architects, oil explorers, business lawyers, journalists, and business developers within banking and trading analysis have in common? Idea Work can provide the answers. This book builds on a four-year research project and describes what extraordinary idea work looks like in practice. The authors take you behind the scenes of some of Norways leading companies and show how surprisingly similarly they work when they are working creatively to develop and realise new ideas. The book gives us, for example, a glimpse of how Snohetta designed the Opera and the 9/11 memorial, and how explorers at Statoil discovered the most oil of all oil companies in the world in 2011. Narratives are presented on how prepping, sketches, pin-ups, drama, wonder, and punk are important aspects of the extraordinary. Examples are supported by theory, placing this book at the forefront of international research. Idea Work will appeal to practitioners as well as students. It recounts engaging stories from actual production processes and combines new theoretical perspectives with practical advice. It will also be of interest to anyone working with development, particularly with developing new ideas. From a professional standpoint, this book is an uncommon contribution to describing and understanding creativity as something collective and grounded in everyday activity.
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About the Author

Arne Carlsen is an Associate Professor at BI Norwegian School of Business, Department for Leadership and Organizational Behaviour. He has broad experience from action research projects in more than 50 organizations and was the leader of the Idea Work-project. Carlsens research deals with issues of individual and collective growth in organizations. He has published in journals, handbooks and books about knowledge management, professional service work, identity construction, organizational becoming, hope, and positive organizational change. Stewart Clegg is a Research Professor and Director of the Centre for Management and Organisation Studies Research at the University of Technology, Sydney, and Visiting Professor at Universidade Nova, Lisbon, as well as at Copenhagen Business School and EM-Lyon. A prolific contributor to leading academic journals in social science, management and organization theory, he has won a number of awards for his research work, including the George R. Terry Award of the Academy of Management for outstanding contributions to management knowledge for his role in editing the Handbook of Organization Studies. Reidar Gjersvik carries out action research on knowledge, change, learning and idea work in organizations. He holds a PhD in Organization Development and IT from the Department of Organization and Work Life Science at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway. Gjersvik has been a Research Director at SINTEFs Department Kunne and a Knowledge Manager in Advokatfirmaet Thommessen. Reidar is now Department Director for KulturLab at Arts Council Norway.


Prepare to be surprised. This book on idea work significantly enriches how we see, understand and do the everyday work of making ideas transformative. The book is simultaneously simple and profound, playful and serious, practical and theoretical. No doubt it will be useful and used by anyone who is curious about how ideas become real in everyday activities. - Jane Dutton, Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration and Psychology, University of Michigan A great addition to the literature on organizational creativity - Distinguished Research Professor Gareth Morgan, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto Idea Work is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding and not least practising everyday organizational creativity. The book's focus on collective creative practices is highly innovative and will prove invaluable to organizations that care about being on the leading edge of what they do. - Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, Chair of Major Programme Management, University of Oxford, author of Making Social Science Matter. The growing interest for practice based studies has found its way to creativity and innovation studies in this beautifully designed book Idea Work. Carlsen, Clegg and Gjersvik take an almost anthropological view on daily activities of those involved in idea creation in organizations. The empirical rich book provides the reader new, detailed and applicable understandings of how people in organizations engage, create, materialize, communicate, resist and realize ideas. Research on creativity and innovation has never been so 'down to earth' and inspire us to see creativity through a practice lens. The found qualities of idea work are valuable to both academics, students and practitioners in the field of creativity, innovation and design. - Professor Alfons van Marrewijk. Professor in Business Anthropology, VU University Amsterdam "Reading this book enables us to appreciate that extraordinary idea work lies essentially in performing ordinary activities, in a whole range of work settings, extraordinarily - with love. Idea Work captures not just the dynamic processes that make the impossible possible. It arrests the magic of doing what we do for the love of it, and what it has the potential to create. A must read for anyone who cares to live a more fulfilling (working) life!" - Elena Antonacopoulou, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at University of Liverpool Management School/Senior Fellow of Aim (the Advanced Institute of Management Research)

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