Conference on Complex Systems Close this Window
Brian Uzzi Brian Uzzi
Associate Professor of Management & Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Networks and Creative Industries

We experience marvel when we witness a chimpanzee fishing for ants by stripping a twig of leaves and dipping into an ant hill comes about because we see something distinctly human in non-humans, the ability to create. What will the chimp invent next? Will a larger branch become a spear? Creativity enables wily problem-solving, cultural innovations, beauty, laughter, and art.

We know that creativity is typically spurred when diverse ideas are united or when proven innovations in one domain are introduced into a new domain, solving old problems and inspiring fresh thinking. These structural preconditions of creativity also mean that creativity rarely is, as myth would tell it, the brazen insight of loners. Rather it is the consequence of teams of diverse individuals who socially interact in networks that amplify or stifle the creativity of persons embedded in networks.

This talk discusses two models: a model of how small world networks spur or stifle creativity, and a model of how networks in creative industries arise. Both reveal non-linearity in network effects to explain system behavior. My empirical context is the Broadway Musical Industry from the first musical, "The Black Crook," in 1877 to 1990. Our measures of creativeness are the artistic scores musicals receive from critics and box office success.