Working Paper BETA #2012-05

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Title : THE ROUTINIZATION OF CREATIVITY: Lessons from the Case of a video-game Creative Powerhouse.

Author(s) : Patrick Cohendet, Patrick Llerena, Laurent Simon

Abstract : The aim of this contribution is to proceed to an in-depth exploration of the micro-context of the origin of routines and of their intimate link with organizational creativity. Our view is that organizational creativity orchestrates continuous interactions between different types of routines, operating at different levels of the organization. More precisely we propose distinguishing three types of routines: - First, the routines issued from formal structures or hierarchical working groups in the firm (functional groups, project teams, task force, etc.), for which the context of work and coordination of specialized tasks is defined ex ante by the hierarchy of the firm; - Second, the routines emerging from informal structures, the “knowing communities” which is a “generic term that defines different types of autonomous learning groups of individuals (communities of practice, epistemic communities, and other more or less informal learning groups) united by common beliefs and interests who voluntarily share their resources on a long term basis in order to create and diffuse knowledge” - Third, the routines that are inherently related to the organizational creativity of the firm, which are essentially corporate routines as expression of patterns of thinking, feeling and acting in the corporate culture. In essence they are the genes of collective identity, and take the shape of project management staging and gating principles and practices, framing collective divergent exploration and convergent production toward a creative goal. The contribution is based on an in-depth analysis of the organizational creativity in the world- leading videogame company, Ubisoft, with a special focus on the studio located in Montréal. To some extent, Ubisoft is one of the flagships of the “creative industries”, in which the clear imperative is to sustain creativity on a permanent basis. These reasons explain the choice we made to test our approach of organizational creativity and routines in this firm.

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