Creative Jolts: Responses to Existentially Threatening Feedback by Early Stage Entrepreneurs

Tuukka Toivonen, Onyaglanu Idoko, Harsh Jha

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Feedback constitutes an essential part of the creative process. While recent research has greatly improved our understanding of how feedback interactions can shape emerging ideas over time (Harrison & Rouse, 2015), it has largely omitted strongly affective episodes whereby the very point or viability of a creator’s idea are called into question. In this paper, we focus on unexpected instances where feedback sets up an existential threat condition for the creator, requiring him/her to respond in a potentially radical way. We label this affective trigger-response process the creative jolt episode and utilize an inductive multiple-case study design to examine 10 such episodes based on longitudinal qualitative research into the idea journeys of early-stage digital entrepreneurs in London (which we researched exhaustively for eight to thirteen months). We make an original contribution to organizational creativity research by (1) empirically investigating and preliminarily theorizing the phenomenon of existential feedback; (2) demonstrating how and why such feedback can have generative effects, producing marked shifts in creators’ idea journeys; and (3) offering an original process model detailing two contrasting creative jolt pathways. We argue that disruptive episodes of existential feedback – that are relatively rare yet potentially transformative – should be incorporated into our understanding of the dynamic relationship between feedback and creativity over time.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
EventThe 79th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management - Hynes Convention Center, Boston, United States
Duration: 9 Aug 201913 Aug 2019
Conference number: 79,is%20Understanding%20the%20Inclusive%20Organization.


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