Lise Røjskjær Pedersen
Institut for Antropologi
Øster Farimagsgade 5, Opgang i, 1353 København K, CSS Bygning 16, Opgang i, Room 16.0.25
On the verge of the new – how ideas are created in a Danish consultancy
The ph.d. project explores how consultants in a Danish innovation consultancy create new ideas for business by drawing on methods from the social sciences, in particular the discipline of anthropology. Consultants working in this branch of consulting come from such diverse backgrounds as design, economy and anthropology. What joins them is that they believe that for true innovation to happen in companies and in the world at large, one has to understand ‘real people’ by uncovering their lives, motivation and unmet needs. In innovation consultancies, which essentially earn their money from selling new ideas and direction for business growth, the ability of the employees to come up with original and financially viable ideas is crucial, and ‘creativity’ seems to have become one of the most demanded resources in such endeavors. Creativity is what makes the difference for corporations if they want to compete and grow.
Based on long-term fieldwork in a Danish consultancy the ph.d.project explores how notions of anthropology, creativity and business are brought together and cultivated with the aim of coming up with ideas for business development. In particular, the project focuses on the social mechanisms and micro-processes of making and shaping ideas and on the non-linear and complex processes of streamlining and twisting different pieces of knowledge into feasible concepts and business opportunities that are gradually conveyed to a client.
The ph.d. is part of the Sapere Aude supported research project ‘Optimal distortion – ethnographic explorations of paradoxical connections’ and as such the project will contribute to the development of the concept distortion that enables an investigation of ’the new’ as a more or less intended outcome of multiple social relations and specific cultural circumstances. For innovation seems to be imagined as an optimal distortion: A deliberate construction of new ideas that hover between the intended, ’the anticipated unintended’ and the utterly misunderstood.