New thinking, management control, & instrumental rationality Managing organizational creativity in pharmaceutical R&D
Doktorsavhandling, 2004

This thesis deals with aspects of how to manage the precursor of innovation in organizations, namely, organizational creativity. Literature on innovation is prolific but is under-theorized in terms of organizational creativity, which is an emerging research area. At the same time, few empirical studies are grounded in an organizational context. Like many other R&D-intensive industries, the pharmaceutical industry increasingly focuses on producing short-term results. Despite increased R&D size and budget, and costly implementation of new technologies, the industry cannot produce proportional radical innovations - according to critics and insiders. Major industry players now face increased organizational complexity, are becoming more influenced by instrumental rationality, and are being subjected to management control - to streamline the R&D process. Organizational creativity, which is highly praised as a core capability within the industry, challenges conventional (inherited) rationality, which management considers effective; consequently, organizational creativity becomes problematic. This thesis examines management of organizational creativity in new product development in the pharmaceutical industry. The applied methodology crosses several theoretical boundaries and takes a multiparadigmatic approach to the study of creativity in organizations. The research has produced knowledge on what organizational creativity is and how management can play an important role in research and in the practice of managing organizational creativity. Creative action in new drug development is a collaborative, integrative, multidisciplinary, non-linear process that involves a lot of unpredictability for the organization. An important part of managing organizational creativity in pharmaceutical R&D deals with increasing the probability of creative action. An example of this is acknowledging and supporting information sharing, informal networks, and intuition - to increase organizational thinking “outside the box”, which can balance the effectiveness, standardization, and effects of complex hierarchical organizational structures. At a time of management control, when all major industry players have become equally efficient, this thesis argues that being able to manage organizational creativity is going to be the decisive competitive advantage that demands new thinking within management practice and organizational design to improve the ex ante process of innovation and not predominantly form an ex post, instrumental rationality perspective.

R&D organization

organizational creativity


pharmaceutical industry

management practices


Mats Sundgren

Chalmers, Institutionen för projektledning


Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 2110

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