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Autopoietic organisation of knowledge, creativity and innovation: a case study of the automotive manufacturer Daimler AG

Auernhammer, Jan M.


Jan M. Auernhammer


This doctoral thesis presents an analysis of the context in which creativity and innovation emerges. It is based on an investigation of a single case organisation.
The theoretical framework for the study derived from a number of fields, including organisational studies, social science and systems theory. Of particular importance were studies of organisational systems, their function, and the dynamics that allow creativity and innovation to emerge. Autopoietic system theory is relevant here.
The empirical work was conducted in a single large case study organisation based in Germany. Daimler AG, served as the site of data collection. The data for analysis was generated from a survey, focus groups and interviews.
The study identified large organisational structures such as organisational design, culture and information and knowledge, which constrain or enable the fluid process of routines, individuals' interactions, and knowledge and idea creation. These structures are highly interrelated and correlate with the organisational innovation performance. These structures turn into fluid patterns of individual and group creativity. Nine patterns were identified, which build a pattern language of creativity in organisations. This pattern language consists of three main "pattern rules".
The contribution of the study is the identification of three main factors or "pattern rules" that underpin creativity and innovation. These are (1) diverse experienced experts within the "thick of the action"; (2) innovation willingness to create and support change; (3) "free space" where employees can explore, create and prototype new ideas. In this thesis this concept is labelled "Freiraum", which is the German word for "free space" in which individuals and teams can achieve their potential.
These rules build a model of two spaces, which facilitate a spiral of creativity driven by the innovation willingness. This model provides explanation of how creativity and innovation emerges within the context of an organisation. This work draws particular attention to the dynamics of creativity and innovation, and the influence of organisational control on redundancy of the system, where high control leads to low redundancy and vice versa.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Creativity; Innovation; Organisational knowledge creation; Autopoietic; System theory; Pattern language;
Public URL
Contract Date Mar 24, 2014
Award Date 2012-04


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