Dissertation: How to study organizational creativity through a case of theatre?


In her doctoral dissertation Carmen Pellegrinelli studies organisational creativity through the case of theatre. She offers a new conceptualisation of organisational creativity as a collective material process to which each human and non-human can contribute.

What is organisational creativity? Is it an individual's or group's quality, a problem-solving process, or a product's characteristic? And how can we take account of it?

Mainstream debate of organisational creativity focuses on traits and characteristics of creative individuals or organisations. These studies describe creativity as something we must measure to understand.

– What if we focus on the processes through which organisational creativity emerges instead of measuring it? Carmen Pellegrinelli asks.

In recent years, scholars have started to look at creative practices through a processual lens, emphasising the temporal progression of activities as the basis of understanding the creative phenomenon. By using this lens, a more holistic, collective and sociomaterial view of creativity is now emerging.

In her dissertation Pellegrinelli has been working on this new processual idea of organisational creativity, focusing on practice in order to show how creative outputs emerge and unfold from sociomaterial practices.

– Through the lens of the epistemology of practice, it is possible to see and take account of the emerging process of something new, looking at the entanglement of different humans and non-humans participating in the creative process.

A new conceptualisation of organisational creativity as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon

To explain her point, Pellegrinelli explores professional practices of staging a theatre show, asking: how does a new scene of a theatrical play emerge in the rehearsal process? According to Pellegrinelli, theatre is particularly interesting for studying organisational creativity because it is an exciting field where the materiality of human and non-human bodies matter, and meanings and contents are negotiated in a complex creation process based on specific professional practices.

Through the case of theatre, Pellegrinelli offers a new conceptualisation of organisational creativity as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon where knowledge, power, performance and sociomaterial dimensions intersect in practice to stimulate and produce creative emergence.

– The practical, tacit, sensible professional knowledge of the participants, the power dimension, the sociomateriality in the rehearsal room, and the common orientation toward the object of practice play together and intersect in the creative flow, stimulating and orienting the creative emergence.

Pellegrinelli's work documents and explains how these dimensions follow each other in a chain of relations that move the creative process toward something shared and stable, like the production of a new artefact or theatrical play.

Her conceptualisation of organisational creativity enriches the processual, relational and sociomaterial vision of creativity so that organisational creativity could be considered not an individual characteristic or a mental process but a collective material process to which each human and non-human can contribute.

– This multidimensional model could be applied to contexts of creation beyond the arts. In particular, it offers a key to understanding purely organisational and entrepreneurial contexts, highlighting how process-organisational creativity is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to control.

However, according to Pellegrinelli, future research may demonstrate how organisational creativity can be implemented by working on the dimensions outlined.

– For example, implementing the participants' knowledge in the process, being aware of the participants' agency and increasing the opportunities for experimentation, negotiation, and meeting between humans and non-humans are actions that could foster organisational collective creativity.

Information on the public examination

Carmen Pellegrinelli’s dissertation Extending Processual Practice-Based Organizational Creativity: A Case from Theatre will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Lapland on the 20th of October 2023 at 12 pm in Auditorium B126.

The pre-examiners are Päivi Eriksson University of Eastern Finland and Silvia Gherardi, University of Trento. The opponent is Professor Silvia Gherardi, University of Trento. The supervisors are Professor Anu Valtonen and Adjunct Professor, Senior University Lecturer Pikka Maaria Laine from the University of Lapland. The language of the public defence is English.

The public defence will take place online at Teams.

Information on the doctoral candidate

Carmen Pellegrinelli completed her theatre degree at the University of Bologna in 2003. She spent 25 years in theatre, working as an actor, playwright, and director. Her plays were performed in Italy, France, Austria, UK and Switzerland and received numerous awards. The topics tackle subjects such as feminism, LGBTQIA+, anti-fascism, ecology, multiculturalism, and children's rights. In 2017, she acquired her Clinical Psychology degree at the University of Bergamo and had an internship on creativity at the University of Southern Denmark (Department of Language and Communication).

The focus of her academic studies is the link between social and organizational sciences, theatre, creativity and posthuman philosophy. She has publications on creativity in psychology (Parolin & Pellegrinelli, 2020a; Parolin & Pellegrinelli, 2020b; Pellegrinelli, 2020), organizational studies (Pellegrinelli & Parolin, 2022; Pellegrinelli, 2023) and theatre (Pellegrinelli & Parolin, 2021); on aesthetics of care (Pellegrinelli et al., 2022); qualitative and post-qualitative research methods (Pellegrinelli & Parolin 2023); activism (Pellegrinelli & Parolin, 2021; Parolin & Pellegrinelli, 2022a; Parolin & Pellegrinelli, 2022b; forthcoming Parolin & Pellegrinelli), and disability studies (forthcoming Pellegrinelli).

Further information

Carmen Pellegrinelli
Tel. +39 348 1212365
cpellegr (at)
Carmenpellegrinelli (at)

Information on the publication

Carmen Pellegrinelli (2023): Extending Processual Practice-Based Organizational Creativity: A Case from Theatre. Acta electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis, 362. ISBN: 978-952-337-389-1, ISSN 1796-6310. University of Lapland: Rovaniemi.

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