The ‘Creativity Cage’
Fashion firms between routine and dis-/re-enchantment
Creative industries encounter the need to balance the mass market and unique ideas as well as novelty and familiarity. Driven by a constant demand for novelty and the purpose of distinction, fashion is often considered a particularly interesting case. From an organization sociological point of view this shows that fashion is based on (1) balancing and mediating creativity and efficiency (i.e., authenticity and legitimacy) and (2) implementing strategies such as routinization, storytelling and project-cooperations by means of which fashion firms manage such institutional contradictions that precondition the production of creativity as a product.
The presentation’s argument is built on two interesting empirical observations: On the one hand, the core activities of organizations in the fashion industry are relatively stable while its content, i.e. the semiotic codes, are unstable. Although the use of material is exploited by semiotic changes, materialities remain constant. On the other hand, in order to live up to the myth, fashion firms re-enchant such activities by ceremonially presenting what is a mere fact of rationalization: They co-operate with hip artists, showcase designs expensively and tell stories about the making of the collection. Research in the creative industries identifies language as a distinctive feature compared to other industries that also encounter creative activities. This presentation will focus on empirical material and analysis and give insights into potential interpretations.