Disentangling novelty and usefulness: Essays on creativity in the arts and sciences

Richard Haans

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Concerns that sophisticated algorithms and autonomous machines are replacing human labor have driven a recent interest in creativity as a key factor in maintaining innovation and economic growth. Within management and entrepreneurship research, the dominant definition of creativity is that it entails the generation of ideas or products that are both novel and useful. Novelty—being new, unique, or different, relative to central practices or views—and usefulness—being appropriate, correct, or valuable to the task at hand—are therefore each seen as necessary conditions for something to be classified as creative. In spite of its importance, a major obstacle to the study of creativity has been the translation of this simple two-criterion conceptual definition into an operational one to be utilized in empirical study.

This dissertation aims to take a step back and answer the question of whether, how, and under what conditions novelty is related to usefulness. Following recent advances in the study of creativity it emphasizes that, although creativity may be jointly composed of the novelty and usefulness, these are distinct concepts that should best be considered as such. This dissertation contributes to research on creativity, management, and entrepreneurship by providing new insights into the conditions under which creativity emerges—yielding new insights as to why some novel offerings see widespread use whereas other ostensibly similar offerings linger in obscurity. This dissertation consists of four essays that address the overarching research question from a variety of theoretical lenses, and each essay is centered on a setting where creativity is of particular importance: university students who are close to starting knowledge-intensive and skilled work, the creative industries, and academia.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • van Witteloostuijn, Arjen, Promotor
  • Duijsters, Geert, Promotor
Award date6 Nov 2017
Place of PublicationTilburg
Print ISBNs978 90 5668 530 0
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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