The multicultural muse: Culture, creativity and innovation

Robert Westwood, David R. Low

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the relationship between culture and creativity and innovation. It critically reviews the literature in which cross cultural differences in approaches to creativity and innovation are discussed. It first examines how creativity is conceptualized differentially across cultures and how social structural factors account for differences in creativity and innovation. Evidence for the impact of culture on cognitive style and personality as related to creativity and innovation is covered next. Finally, it addresses directly the relationship between cultural values and creativity/innovation. The article draws the following conclusions: (1) culture can and does impact on creative and innovation processes, but the relationship should not be considered universalistically, simplistically or unreflexively; (2) there is insufficient evidence to enable definitive statements to be made about systematic differences across cultures in personality or cognitive style with respect to creativity; (3) creativity and innovation are complex psychosocial processes involving numerous salient factors of which culture is but one; (4) the weight of evidence suggests that the relationship should be viewed contingently and in subtle and nuanced ways. A contingent view suggests that there are different processes, mechanisms, and structures through which creativity and innovation emerge. Cultures are creative and innovative within the context of their own systems and the exigencies and contingencies of those particular systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-259
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Cross Cultural Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


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