Knowledge Creation Across Worldviews: How Metaphors Impact and Orient Group Creativity

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Metaphors are central in organization theory for they help the creation of knowledge by altering concepts or generating new ones. Yet, despite their importance, little is known about how metaphors are used in processes of knowledge creation across worldviews. In such contexts, participants maintain their specialization, work separately, and resort to interpretable devices like metaphors to create together. With a longitudinal study of a multidisciplinary scientific project aimed at repairing broken spinal cord tissues, we show how metaphors facilitate collective knowledge creation. We contribute to the theory of knowledge creation across worldviews by showing the consequences of the diverse creative outcomes of metaphors on the orientation and stability of the collective work. Moreover, we propose how to control and predict the creative outcomes of metaphors by modifying the knowledge bases that are engaged in the creative process. We contribute to the theory on cycles of knowledge creation by showing that a metaphor can extend knowledge both horizontally and vertically, and by specifying the relationships between the knowledge created and the elements that simultaneously populate the creative cycles.

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