Managing creativity in magazine publishing: the 4Ps of creativity

Das, S. 2019. Managing creativity in magazine publishing: the 4Ps of creativity. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media and Communication

TitleManaging creativity in magazine publishing: the 4Ps of creativity
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsDas, S.

With deep historical roots in culture and even myth, ‘creativity’ travels from its first formal English dictionary entry at the end of 19th Century (Kaufman & Glaveneau 2019) to becoming central in the re-branding of cultural industries as creative (Hesmondhalgh & Baker 2011) in the proceeding century. However, despite being studied with academic rigour since the 1950s (Sawyer 2012), there is no agreed theory of creativity (Sternberg & Lubart 1999, Hennessey & Amabile 2010).

Given this epic rise in its cultural and industrial importance, there have been many attempts in recent decades at explaining the nature of creativity, including whether it can be aided or even managed from an economic perspective. This thesis aims to join this this specific and on-going challenge by looking at creativity in the industrial context of magazine publishing: an established cultural industry and one on the cusp of what could be called ‘digital change’ in the last decade.

In an attempt at adding to the definitional and methodological understanding of creativity in media, this thesis adopts a componential or holistic ‘4 Ps’ conceptualisation (first discussed by Mel Rhodes, 1961), by considering creativity in People, Process, Place and Products. A key element of this work, the ‘4Ps’ model developed is used to interpret a theorised relationship between four variables by way of proximal ‘measures’ – ones instrumentalised by reviewing cultural theory (such as genius and ‘Big C’ creativity of Weisburg 1993 and Csikszentmihaly 1988) and the social psychology confluence theories of ‘Small C’, everyday creativity (Sternberg & Lubart 1991, Amabile 1983,

Through qualitative research methods, individual and group interviews, as well as organisational autoethnographic accounts from magazine publishers, editors, entrepreneurs and employees (including two ‘historical’ magazines cases), nine case study findings have been used to form structured qualitative datasets, aiding interpretation of interrelatedness of the ‘4 Ps of creativity’. A primary contribution of the thesis is therefore located within the ontological contention of empirical ‘measurement’ – and its approach to creativity judgement in the fields of cultural studies, the emerging field of media management (Malmelin & Virta, 2016, Virta & Malmelin 2017) and creative industries study (Kung 2008a, 2008b).

In addition to the research’s approach, the creativity and media management insights aim to shine a light on an industry facing an existential threat from the digital shift. Where magazines today are shown to perhaps need less ‘heroic’ personality-defined People creativity (unlike the 1990s), creativity in the digital era is important in other ways. In nuancing different types of ‘Big C’ and ‘Small C’ creativity in contemporary magazine work, the study makes a case for adapting creativity management models such as Amabile’s (1996 and Amabile & Pratt 2016) and Tan (1998) by focusing on Process aspects of skills and knowledge development, aided through differentiated environmental Place culture factors suited to magazine genres, clients and audiences in changing fields with new domains of knowledge.

KeywordsCreativity, Creativity theory, Media management, Managing creativity, Magazine publishing, Magazine media, innovation, publishing, 4 Ps of Creativity
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Publication dates
PublishedSep 2019

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