Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why it doesn't pay to be creative

"If critical creativity and radical innovation are to occupy a strategic focus in higher education (rather than merely something to which lip service is paid), then policy, structures and management processes should be cognisant of research findings. Such research, as we have shown, highlights the potentially destructive impact of current and emerging practices. Much is made of the need for ‘evidence based’ policy, yet much of the available evidence in this domain is being ignored. High levels of stress, micro-management, short-term contracts, reduced investment and heightened competition will be counter-productive and lead to a relative decline in the sector’s capacity to innovate, to reframe and to play a transformative role for students and wider society."

Iain MacLaren. The contradictions of policy and practice: creativity in higher education. London Review of Education 10(2) 25 Jun 2012
Whilst much of the rhetoric of current educational policy champions creativity and innovation, structural reforms and new management practices in higher education run counter to the known conditions under which creativity flourishes. As a review of recent literature suggests, surveillance, performativity, the end of tenure and rising levels of workplace stress are all closing off the space for real creative endeavour, characterised as it is by risk-taking, collaborative exploration and autonomy. Innovation, as conceived in this policy context (i.e., that of the UK and Ireland), is narrow in scope and leaves little room for critical re-examination of the nature of education itself or radical reconceptions of curriculum, raising the question as to whether such are more likely to arise extra mural, from new forms of organisation.


  1. James KalmakoffJune 28, 2012 2:26 am

    A pity this article is not freely available online -- $USD36 for 13 pages seems steep?? -- the price to pay to see why it doesn't pay to be creative!

  2. Fair point (it's already been made to the author). However, when your continued employment rests on publishing in journals with the highest impact factor possible that's what happens :-(