Looking at creativity through a business-psychology-education (BPE) lens: The challenge and benefits of listening to each other

Roni Reiter-Palmon, Ronald A. Beghetto, James C. Kaufman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

24 Scopus citations


Creativity is a universal concept that crosses over into many academic fields. Archeologists might study the origins and evolution of creative behavior (Mithen, 1996), whereas a neurologist may emphasize creativity produced by people with degenerative brain disease (Schott, 2012). Art historians, nursing professors, and economists all have different approaches to thinking about creativity. However, we would argue that most of the conceptual, definitional work has been conducted in the broad arenas of psychology, education, and business. Despite such potential synergy, researchers can sometimes resemble the (fictional) New York legislature described above. These three fields have their own journals and conferences, and seminal work from one arena may not even be widely known in another. There is a perpetual risk of reinventing the wheel (and engine, batteries, and breaks) without increased communication. One of the goals of this chapter is to discuss how theory and research from business, psychology, and education can complement and inform the others. We feel there is great potential in viewing creativity through a more integrated, business-psychology-education (BPE) lens. Educators can, for instance, gain new insights into how to better address the longstanding challenge of incorporating creativity into their classroom (Beghetto, 2010; Guilford, 1950; Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow, 2004) by understanding how psychology and business have conceptualized and measured creativity. Psychologists who study creativity will, for example, be in a better position to bridge the “idiographic-nomathetic divide” (Grice, Jackson, & McDaniel, 2006) by considering the kinds of methods and measures that are needed to simultaneously understand individual and organizational creativity in educational and business settings. Business leaders and managers can also learn strategies and insights from education and psychology that might help them cultivate the kind of work environment necessary for catalyzing and sustaining the motivation necessary for employee creativity and organizational innovation (Puccio & Cabra, 2010). Realizing this cross-disciplinary potential will, however, require a realistic understanding of several core issues and tensions that have maintained the trifurcation among these areas. We refer to cross-disciplinary in this context as the evaluation and study of creativity from multiple perspectives and multiple disciplines. In this case, we have opted to evaluate creativity from the perspective of business, education, and psychology. In the following section, we highlight one of those issues-what we call the consequence question – and discuss how this issue not only presents a challenge for creativity researchers, but can also serve as an opportunity for bringing together the three strands of BPE-oriented creativity research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCreativity Research
Subtitle of host publicationAn Inter-Disciplinary and Multi-Disciplinary Research Handbook
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781136249594
ISBN (Print)9780415624565
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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