Creativity and Management in the Media Industry: Empirical Analysis of North American Independent Magazines

University of St. Gallen Dissertation No. 3333

Posted: 12 Apr 2011

See all articles by Robert Edgell

Robert Edgell

SUNY Polytechnic Institute; University of St. Gallen; Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Date Written: May 21, 2007


The study investigated how various creatively heterogeneous actors interact in media habitats and determined management approaches for optimizing content creation. While many scholars have focused on problem solving and innovation, few have studied the effects of artistic or problem finding creativity in an organizational setting. This interdisciplinary research was guided by a framework, consisting of fourteen hypotheses, that mapped relationships among primary variables including: Profile Diversity (balance between two distinct personality-based creativity profiles, problem finding and solving), Values Diversity, Voice, “Coflict” (four ratios of conflict and cooperation), self-reported outcomes (Publication, Senior Management, and Social Mission), and independent expert-judged outcomes (Creativity, Technical Goodness, and Aesthetics).

The empirical study, based on a hybrid cross-sectional and longitudinal survey series strategy, primarily used three instruments to collect data. In three waves with 45 key measures, responses were gathered from a number of senior management team members (for small mission-driven North American publications), from confirmed artists and scientists, and from independent expert judges who rated products from each publication. To explore and test hypotheses, a variety of statistical methods were used, including hierarchical linear and logistic regression modeling.

Surprisingly, the results confirmed a consistently perfect polarity of mean personality factor scores between finders and solvers. Along five personality dimensions, both groups significantly differed in terms of Factor 1 Socialized, Factor 4 Unexploring, and Factor 5 Eager. The study’s findings argue that small, mission-driven media enterprises may optimize products (i.e., creativity premium) and enhance organizational outcomes by leveraging diversity, situation, communication, and process variables. This assertion is supported by four secondary arguments that media teams can benefit from: 1) engaging in higher levels of Conflict 2, the ratio of Content Conflict to the sum of Process and Relationship Conflict; 2) constructing habitat environments characterized as high in Voice and low in Network Congruence; 3) maximizing Profile Diversity while minimizing Values Diversity; and 4) better understanding the unique personalities and creative capabilities that both finders and solvers bring to the content creation process. The study concludes by discussing the top five most interesting opportunities for future research. For practice, senior management teams are encouraged to assess their situation and then engage in a dialog regarding how these study findings might be most usefully applied. This might then result in a strategic plan for change.

Keywords: Innovation Creativity, Media Publishing, Media-Analyse, Business Manager, Communication, Conflict, Cooperation, Creative Actors Creative Process, Creative Professional, Creativity, Diversity, Group Behavior, Innovation, Interdisciplinary, Management, Media Industry, Media Teams

JEL Classification: A14, D74, D82, L15, L21, L39, L86, M21, Z10

Suggested Citation

Edgell, Robert, Creativity and Management in the Media Industry: Empirical Analysis of North American Independent Magazines (May 21, 2007). University of St. Gallen Dissertation No. 3333. Available at SSRN:

Robert Edgell (Contact Author)

SUNY Polytechnic Institute ( email )

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