Creativity, Audiences and Social Evaluation: An empirical inquiry into the emergence and legitimation of novelty. CASE is a 3 years research project supported by a PRIN grant from the Italian Ministry of Research and Education to investigate the social structure of creativity across a variety of domains. It combines qualitative, quantitave and experimental methods.

Simone Ferriani, Principal Investigator



Project Summary:

Creativity research has long been catalyzed by the ‘romantic’ view according to which major creative achievements are sparked by imaginative and uniquely gifted individuals who succeed in bringing novel ideas, categories, projects or organizational forms to life. Several scholarly contributions have supported this ‘heroic’ view leading to a vibrant body of work that has enhanced our understanding of the individual dispositions and talents that underlie the emergence of novelty. Yet, by focusing primarily on the ‘supply side’ of novelty generation, this research has left largely underexplored another key dimension: the need for legitimation, namely the process by which the new and unaccepted is rendered valid and accepted through the attainment of material and/or symbolic resources from relevant social audiences. This is a significant shortcoming as entrepreneurs, artists, inventors or scientists are rarely recognized as creative until their social systems in general, and other creative people in their field in particular, evaluate, recognize and endorse their work. The project address this shortcoming by focusing on three distinct but related fields of cultural production where audiences play a crucial role in shaping creators’ creative trajectories and are also highly visible and so analytically tractable: advertising, opera houses and fashion.


Project Goals:

The goal of the project can be articulated into the following questions about the interplay between individual creators and legitimating audiences:

- Which audience features affect the likelihood that the creators’ work will be legitimated? 

- What is the role of creators’ social structures in eliciting audiences’ appeal for their work?

- How do social audiences’ mental construal affect novelty perceptions? 

- What are the situational factors that shape these evaluative outcomes?

In order to address such questions the project will bring together established perspectives on creativity that emphasize the embeddedness of creativity in networks of social relationships and support with recent social-psychological work on legitimacy as a social process mediated by social audiences who regulate access to critical resources for survival and success, and who evaluate novelty based on distinctive mental representations.



Simone Ferriani, Full Professor - University of Bologna & Cass Business School, London

Gino Cattani, Associate Professor - Stern School of Business, New York University

Andrea Lipparini, Full Professor - University of Bologna

Gabriele Pizzi, Assistant Professor - University of Bologna

Raffaele Corrado, Associate Professor - University of Bologna

Daniele Scarpi, Associate Professor - University of Bologna

Denise Falchetti, Postdoctoral Associate - Boston University