[We’re pleased to welcome Lise van Oortmerssen of the University of Amsterdam. Dr. van Oortmerssen recently collaborated with Cees M. J. van Woerkum of Wageningen University and Noelle Aarts of both Wageningen University and the University of Amsterdam on their paper “When Interaction Flows: An Exploration of Collective Creative Processes on a Collaborative Governance Board,” recently published in the OnlineFirst section of Group and Organization Management.]
When I started the case study that resulted in this article, it was not creative processes that I was focused on. I had access to the board meetings of an innovative collaboration at the intersection of the ICT and creative industries, involving parties from both the private and (semi-)public sectors. The original research focus was on interaction patterns during board meetings and on trust developments among the board members. However, after I had followed the board meetings for a while, I became intrigued by the way that this group of successful, highly skilled people conducted its deliberations and how the board’s interaction patterns were connected to problem solving developments. I felt that I – ánd the readers of a future paper on this case study – could learn a lot from these innovators who were, almost passionately, dedicated to a common goal.
During meetings, the board’s conversation regularly intensified and sometimes even seemed to get into a flow. Such flow episodes generated new insights and often resulted in novel solutions. This dynamic became my new focus of attention. Following this new direction, the case study resulted in completely different output than I had in mind at the start. It resulted in exploring collective creative processes through communication patterns and in launching the concept of interaction flow. The research process was a creative process in itself. This is what makes me a fan of the interpretive research approach – the approach that allows keeping the eyes open to interesting surprises that emerge from the data and following these into novel research directions. It unlocks the potential for finding even more remarkable insights than you were originally looking for. And that actually happened in this case.
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Lise A. van Oortmerssen (PhD) lectures in Corporate Communication at the University of Amsterdam. Her main research interest is in group communication dynamics in organizational contexts, for example focusing on communication patterns in relation to trust and to creativity. She accumulated varied experience as senior advisor in public organizations.
Cees M.J. van Woerkum is Emeritus Professor of Strategic Communication at Wageningen University. He published in the fields of mass communication, policy science and organizational communication, mainly about topics related to the domain of life sciences.
Noelle Aarts is Professor of Strategic Communication at the University of Amsterdam and Associate Professor of Communication Strategies at Wageningen University. She studies inter-human processes and communication for creating space for change, in governmental organizations, NGO’s, and commercial companies. She has published on topics such as communication of organizations with their environment, conflict and negotiation, dealing with ambivalence, network-building and self-organization.