Discourses of Creativity China

Andrea Burris

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


International trade and the uneven distribution of profits in the industrial age contributed to the polarisation in the distribution of wealth around the world.

Whilst Information and Communication Technologies promise to raise standards of living for those with access to it, a pattern is emerging in the production of ICTs where well paid, “creative” labour is concentrated in the industrialised countries and lower paid programming jobs are being outsourced to “emerging markets” like India and China. In this sense, ICT production is not dissimilar to the fashion industry, where high street fashion is designed in the West but manufactured in poorer parts of the world.

The drive for novelty, fuelled by the shift in power from the producer to the consumer in the marketplace is transforming the discourse of creativity. Advertisers are increasingly promoting the creative potential of their products whilst employers are becoming more explicit in their promotion of creativity within their human resource ranks in order to be at the forefront of innovation. This change takes place in the context of globalised production wherein all workers are competing for the same markets.

Much of the management and psychology literature on creativity, which claim that Asian cultures are not creative in the Western sense due to their culture and upbringing (Lau, Hui & Ng, 2004), helps to justify the uneven global division of labour in ICT production. The questions leading the empirical part of the research explore the meanings associated with the term creativity in the ICT sector. For instance, what are the cultural and economic origins of beliefs about creativity? How do these beliefs influence human resource practices in innovative ICT companies? Using a mixed methods approach, I examine the creativity narratives within China and explore the relationships between identity, value and creativity within the software department of a Multi-national IT company and a fashion design department in a Shanghai University. The research challenges the creative and non-creative dichotomy and attempts to map the discourses of creativity in China’s creative industries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2013

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